Imagine a Twitter meme. If you use the site regularly, you likely have an image in mind. Maybe it’s a phrasal template that people alter with their own image punchlines, such as “This Is The Ideal Male Body.” Maybe it’s a reaction GIF that keeps popping up under tweets, like the eternally relevant Blinking White Guy.
Now try Reddit. Maybe you’re imagining a screenshot from a movie that’s been given multiple contexts, such as the “Our Battle Will Be Legendary” meme. Perhaps you’re thinking of one of the myriad Doge and Cheems edits on the site, or the onslaught of Wojak and Chad edits which have grown popular in recent months.
Now try Instagram. A little more difficult, isn’t it? Ask a stranger for what they think a typical Instagram meme looks like, and the answer will be vastly different depending on who you ask. Some might think of garish stock images with messages about depression written in Word Art, popularized by accounts like GayVapeShark. Others might think of broad reaction images with text photoshopped on top, a typical template of the platform’s most popular humor accounts like FuckJerry. Some people might even give the same answer as they’d give for Twitter and Reddit, given how typical it is to find reposts from those sites copied onto Instagram. Of the major social media platforms, Instagram has the most nebulous identity when it comes to its meme culture. Arguably, that’s by design.
Though it initially grew popular as a photo-sharing platform, Instagram has evolved to stand out from other social media sites by offering users a highly-curated content feed one can’t be guaranteed to find on sites like Tumblr, Twitter and Reddit. Unlike Reddit, Instagram doesn’t have hubs like subreddits in which users can foster communities of individuals based around a…
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