When you break out the syllables of the word “meme,” (silent e included)  it sounds pretty ego-centric, and in a way I guess memes are that. But maybe they should be titled “usus” instead.

What I find so fascinating about the phenomenon of memes is that they are contemporary and culturally telling. To me, they are one of the most interesting developments of recent generations. They are reflexive, humorous, cheesy,  even mocking. They can be sarcastic, or serious, or both at once. They give unsolicited advice, usually propogated through (un)holy social media. They capitalize on the power of the image and words. They can capture a zeitgeist, like looking in the mirror for our society, and they are brilliantly open-sourcey.

In the past few years, I have made a practice of saving memes that spoke to me for one reason or another. I’ve been looking back through them lately. Here are some greatest hits from the file. Upcycling them somehow feels like the right thing to do, the way a cover band emulates a great musician, or a hip hop artist honors their predecessors by spitting their names and splicing up and then remixing their material.

Some memes sum things up better than you feel capable of doing yourself:


Other memes reflect perfectly the school of thought you subscribe to:

There are those designed purely for the enjoyment of sports fanatics:


Some memes make valid, political points:

Some of them help you to laugh at yourself:


While others just make you laugh out loud:



Memes often quote important historical, artistic and literary figures:

Some memes are pleas for more rational behavior:


Sometimes, reality surpasses the power of a meme, so you just rely on the crafty, the comic artist, the author, or the camera to make a point:


Other times, you just need some instructions to follow, or at least some diagrams:


Some memes make good use of stick figures:


This meme seeks to make some sense out of a pretty non-sensical world by acknowledging how senseless it all is:


This one highlights the absurdity of it all:


This one needs no words.


While these make graphics out of words:


Lots of memes are schmaltzy as all get-out (but also sort of heart warming):





There are countless memes that state basic, universal truths:

While some give conflicting, if not bad or mutually exclusive, motivational speeches:

This one speaks aptly to the choices we face in life:


Last, and most important, this meme rightly reminds us of our priorities: