It’s obviously funny to be a meme
Viewing, sharing, & creating memes for political entertainment & observation
Keywords:political memes, uses & gratifications, political entertainment, political observation
Memes are cultural units that transmit among online users. Appearing as jokes, memes are a popular form of expression and appear to serve a greater role in the formation and spread of public opinion, changing the way citizens engage with politics. Driven by uses and gratifications theory, this work examines users’ motivations for viewing, sharing, and creating political memes. A nationwide survey (N = 1,000) of Facebook users identified unique gratifications obtained from political meme use. Results show the uses of politically-related memes are nuanced behaviors strategically done to fulfill needs for political entertainment and observation. Specifically, individuals with high political trust, who think of themselves as being humorous, and those who frequently share or create memes used them to observe politics in action. Alternatively, those who prefer to observe humorous circumstances and frequently share and view memes, without engaging in creation, used politically-related memes for entertainment. Practical and theoretical implications regarding use of memes for engagement and effects are discussed.
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