“Out of Office: An Investigation of Memes, Meaning, and Linguistic Competence Online and IRL” is a study of how our language shapes and is shaped by the internet, particularly a new and more abstract form of language: memes.
We were curious about memes as reflections of current trends, obsessions, and anxieties, and wanted to examine how memes evolved similar to how language develops and is adopted by large groups of people. While there’s a lot written about memes, few people treat it as an actual scientific discipline worth studying, but we believe that digital literacy is crucial to understanding things like communication and radicalization.
In our project, we covered the scientific origins of the word “meme” and the field of memetics, linguistic competence and memes as speech acts, memes in contemporary culture, and the obligation of memeing responsibly.
Anastasia is a PhD-trained researcher and cultural strategist and I’ve got a background in journalism and brand strategy, so our areas of expertise dovetailed nicely—we were both interested in semiotics and how it manifests in memes, and more broadly, where culture comes from.