The Future of Memes

Ah, memes. The absurdist neo-dada calling card of Gen Z. As someone who runs three different meme pages, ranging from socio-political to niche interest to absurdist, I consider myself a bit of a meme aficionado. Not that it’s something to be proud of. As this decade comes to a close, I wonder: What will the memes of tomorrow look like? 


(Disclaimer: the first few memes are cringe because I’m showing off cringe. It gets better. Do not fret.)

When I talk about memes in this article, I don’t mean the ones that have the white caption and reaction image. Oh no. Those are barely memes. Those are tame. Those are what you can show a professor. And they’d usually get it. Those simple images and reactions are nice, soulless, and instagram-friendly. They’re so annoyingly lame. Their inclusion in this article is only to show my disdain. 



For the most part, these memes seem to follow the format of the stupid image macros of the past that everyone found funny. Think bad luck brian. Think scumbag steve. Wack, for the most part. These are the oversaturated ones that baby boomers put in presentations to stay hip. I haven’t seen an lolcat since 2010 and I thank the universe for that blessing every day.  

Ok Boomers:

There are rare occasions when this brand of meme is ok. When the punchline is especially clever or messed-up. That’s the good stuff. The meme of a horrified Tom is the perfect example.



However, the god tier memes that I am referencing here are the truly absurdist ones. The ones with the oversaturated color schemes. The ones that truly confuse boomers. These seem to have exploded as of late, with memes seeming to either be following the format of complete bastardization of an image--in a good way-- or of following a “graphic design is my passion” sort of feel to them, with random text in random fonts with seemingly unrelated images. 


Check out r/pasteurized for confusion


There’s been a resurgence of memes but rebranded to be more convoluted and bizarre-- such as ironic doge, wojak comics, and ironic rage comic faces. Memes involving impact font captions and late 2000s images have come back, dripping with irony and bizarre humor, and I for one am 100% here for it. These have the same energy as those bizarre gf memes. Nice.


The other type of meme which has come up post-image macro--and which I consider real-- is that of what I call representational memes. These involve captioning things to represent other things. It’s like political cartoons by Ben Garrison, except actually entertaining and not disgusting to look at. Also, they don’t caption every little thing present unless it serves a purpose, Ben. 



Niche memes have always been a thing but lately they’re getting better and better. They seem mostly to be representational, yet they have the extra zest of only appealing to the ingroup that gets it. I’ve been on a political discord server. The memes shared were top notch. It’s beautiful the way everyone has a home online. 



We have the beauty of random phrases or people who become memes-- whether the people are real or just abstract concepts. “Ok Boomer” is magnificent, really. Perfect for when my professors annoy me. Florida Man is an abstract concept of the ferality of the state. But, it is beautiful. 


You could also consider tiktoks memes. They’re good when bizarre and jarring. We stan.

So where does this leave us in the future?  

Here are my conclusions based on trends from the 2000s to now:

  1. The oh-so-hilarious ReLaTaBlE instagram-safe content will continue to thrive, despite the complete lack of soul or personality. People like that, I guess.

  2. The absurdist memes will escalate. You think the absurdism of now is out of control? Wait until you see the future.

  3. The resurgence of memes possibly from the middle of the 2010s, like those weird mlg memes or whatever dank thing they had going on. I don’t know. And don’t you dare imply I was obsessed with them in 8th and 9th grade. That is false. This never happened.

  4. More ironic tiktoks. Or whatever app ends up in its place.

  5. More bizarre videos. Good.

  6. Cats continue ruling.

  7. Memes better stay messed up. They BETTER. 

  8. Niche memes might not have too different of a trajectory. These simply take the dominant memes present at the time and adapt them. 


Memes are too multifaceted to present in their entirety, and that’s ok! After all, I’m the one who spent hours writing about memes! Good job! Time well spent, me!