Richard Dawkins first introduced the idea and concept of memes in his book The Selfish Gene, which was published in 1976.
“Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pol by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation” (192).
So, then, these are memes:
But I’m more interested in the “Animal Memes” and the cultural memes that have popped up on the Internet like fleas on a wet dog.
Here’s business cat, for example:
Memes like Business cat and Rage Wolf are ideas that inhabit a certain cultural pool. Each meme’s central image (the cat, the kitten, the wolf, the puppy, the cat with the glasses and scarf, the penguin, the frog…) has an identity/personality that people create captions to match.
Dawkins could not have foreseen his coined word turning into a meme itself, and propagating in so many weird ways.