ZoCo Investigates Memes

Who doesn’t love a well placed meme?


They can carry so much meaning, change the tone of a conversation, take on a life of their own, and occupy space in our heads and the internet for years.

Take the “Disaster Girl” meme, for example. This was originally posted online in 2004. 2004! This meme is now old enough to vote. And it still lives on in pop culture to this day.



We sure love a well-placed meme here at ZoCo. We basically have an entire slack channel dedicated to them.

But we were curious: when was the term “meme” coined? How have they impacted society?


By definition, a meme is “a unit of cultural information spread by imitation.”


And did you know British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is credited with introducing the term in his 1976 book, “The Selfish Gene”? The internet has forced its original meaning to change, but not all that much according to Richard Dawkins himself. You can read his interview with WIRED here, where he talks about it being reappropriated by the internet.


How have memes impacted society?


Well, good luck scrolling social media and not seeing one. Or receiving a text (or maybe even an email) that doesn’t feature a popular meme at the time.

And for a larger societal impact, you don’t have to look much farther than the cryptocurrency Dogecoin. This is a cryptocurrency that was created as a joke based on a meme. It then went on to be considered a rival to bitcoin for a brief period and had people monitoring Elon Musk’s twitter feed for investing advice.



Either way, we love a good meme. And it’s always fascinating to see how something can truly take on a life of its own and impact society on a macro scale.


It gets even better when you start to look at virality through the lens of a product or brand.


What causes some to catch fire and skyrocket compared to others? We’ll get into that in another post soon.


Send us your favorite meme on Instagram or Twitter @zocodesign. Maybe we’ll send back a few of our favorites.

If interested, here are some of the most popular memes today. For more history on memes, check out these links: NY Times, WIRED.


Eric Trimble