In recent years, the term "meme" has entered common parlance with a different meaning than that designated by Dawkins and his academic colleagues and acolytes. The new meaning is related yet distinct from that used first in the 1970s. The phrase "internet meme" generally refers to a new breed of inside joke that spreads via the Internet. The most recognizable example is a funny image accompanied by a pithy caption rendered in a bulbous font.
I am going to suggest here that the term "meme" is now much better known as part of the phrase "internet meme" than as the academic concept developed by Richard Dawkins. I have no comprehensive survey to back this assertion. I am making an anecdotal observation and would welcome anyone to disabuse me of the notion if there is significant evidence contradicting this understanding.
Assuming that I am correct, the very phenomena that Dawkins described using the term "meme" is currently working to annihilate (or at least supersede) the meaning of the term "meme." The relationship between replication, mutation, and selective pressures that operates to shape culture in memetic evolution has led to the term "meme" replicating more widely only by mutating to mean something more accessible - an inside joke spread on Facebook.
|Hegel would be proud.|