The other day my friend Blunt sent me this meme over Signal and I cackled because that IS hard to swallow. Very quickly my Twitter feed was filled up by memes that weren’t made my people (technically) but instead by artificial intelligence technology over at imgflipdotcom. They all were so funny, all fit in with classic meme templates that are well-loved, and there was just enough customization. People seemed really impressed that artificial intelligence could make macros, some people even started writing about how they were arguably better than memes made by people.
I honestly did lose my shit with this one. It’s cute because the little bottom text “made with AI on imgflip.com” almost has an eerily similar feeling to when meme pages that make unique macros credit their work, slightly to the side but still there. So if you go to the website, which looks like this:
You’ll find forty-eight familiar meme templates, they’ve all went viral and almost seemingly exist as a part of the communal conscious. Not only that but the formatting and purpose of each of the memes is obvious due to the collective memory, the formula exists and is clear. The meme captions were created through a deep artificial neural network, which honestly is impressive! Luckily the nature of template memes is they’re rather easy to replicate due to their formulaic nature
You’ll find that the AI project is titled “This Meme Does Not Exist”, which is ironic considering the fact that it isn’t that the meme doesn’t exist but that the users are able to recreate a new version of the same meme over and over again. Created again and again until the viewer finally views it as worthy of being a meme, it’s about as temporal as the inherent nature of memes themselves. The meme does exist but it just as quickly doesn’t exist. There’s also the implication in the name that a meme, therefore, is only a meme if it’s made by a person.
What’s funny here is in many ways the AI memes are made by people, given the fact that they can customize the target theme (by putting names or words they’d like to have in the meme) and choosing from the meme templates that they actually like, as not everyone will vibe with each one. I do think that it’s faulty to say that these memes are automatically going to be good after all, much of what comes back isn’t even funny! The majority of it is actually nonsensical. When I had seen all the hubbub around the AI-generator, since people truly seemed fascinated by the “memes” being created, I thought it must be really interesting.
When I actually went and experienced it for myself, it made sense why people would fall into it. It’s fun to customize your memes in this chaotic madlibs, even if sometimes what comes back doesn’t make sense (and not even in like an absurd funny way) and it’s fun to play with new technology as it comes along. Not just that but it allows for people who may not really know how to create funny memes on their own, to be a part of a greater collective of meme-making. This is easy when all the possible formatting is already so familiar.
Of course, it should be noted that the only reason that some of the AI-generated memes are funny is simply that they contextually finally make sense…which is, by all means, a form of a meme but also again so bad. Some people were like “yes this might not make sense lol but look at it! how funny in that it doesn’t make sense!” but simply put like that doesn’t necessarily impress me. I know I should be way more impressed by AI but that doesn’t mean that AI makes for a good meme or a viral sensation, for that matter. All that being said, here are some more that did amuse me.
I can admit that some of these are really funny! Do I think that AI will ever be able to perfectly replicate what makes a meme (or any creative output for that matter) special? No! I do think everyone should try it out (if they haven’t yet) but also maybe use it as a gate-way to experimenting with creating content yourself! Maybe I’m a bitch who distrusts tech too much and maybe I should grow to love AI-creations, but there’s something about memes that are created by people.