What is a meme? Dictionary definition: an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.
Memes are elements of culture that are imitated by those in that culture.
When looking at it this way your nation's flag is a meme, your countries governing documents are memes, your clothing brand is a meme. Anything that is shared and spreads in a culture is a meme.
Why do we need these memes? To move cohesively towards shared security and economic goals. A nation creates memes to thread together the fabric of their society so that it can provide for the defense of it's people (including food and shelter) and so that it can accrue resources for it's people. You could more simply say just "shared security," economic security being under the broader umbrella of security. I separate them out because the memes we see in economics: the U.S. dollar, the federal reserve, traditional financial instruments, etc. are especially under assault in our new reality.
If Americans all stop believing in the "element of their culture" that is the U.S. dollar, American Society would crumble. It is that we all agree the dollar has value, and share a system of behavior, that allows the U.S. dollar and more broadly the world economy (running on the dollar reserve currency) to function. Some would argue the root power comes from the U.S. military, I wouldn't argue against that, but the shared cultural layer that then propagates the memes that are backed by guns, is still a necessary meme layer. Said another way, if the U.S. military was all that backed the meme, it would be a very different, darker, world.
Do we (the majority of people) like this system? Statistic after statistic is bearing out that the system is disproportionally and aggressively pushing wealth towards fewer and fewer hands. There are many reasons for this and many views on the benefits/negatives of this, I'm not here to debate that. Overall it seems both sides of the political spectrum and humans in general are against funneling 70% of a nation's wealth to 10% of it's people, how you solve that and keep what is great...great, is up for debate. The current system is disproportionately and inequitably continuing to funnel power and money away from the majority (again you can feel whatever way you want about that fact and pick whatever root causes you want, not important here).
The digital asset market (cryptocurrency) is reimagining an economic system in a global, decentralized, and digital way. It is trying to remake the landscape and usher in a new guard. People are able to own protocols from the beginning, they are able to participate in the governance of banks, media platforms, video games, and more. They are able to directly economically benefit from the growth of the products they use or care about. At it's simplest level it is an opening up of the Venture Capital market to the masses, for better or worse; while reimagining what "venture capital", software, social networks, and more can be.
Every single digital asset is in two camps: memes and utilitarian memes. ETH is the premier utilitarian meme, it has a culture, shared behavior, and systemic rules. On top of this it has utility, it allows you to access all of the decentralized applications on Ethereum, the most utilitarian being lending platforms and art/games (in my humble opinion). The premier meme only asset is Bitcoin. Bitcoin is an element of a culture AND a system of behavior that passes from one person to another, it is a shared belief. It is a shared belief that units of account should be owned by the people for the people, there should be a globalized, decentralized, "zero" counterparty risk unit of account.
Under ETH there are many utilitarian memes: SOL, BSC, etc. Under Bitcoin there are many memes: Litecoin, Doge, USDC. One meme has been especially under fire and it is the like of Doge. What is the point of this type of meme?
Doge started as the "dog" coin, based on the Shiba Inu dog breed, a favorite breed of dogs for the internet crowd (mostly reddit) that supported it. It was a carefree and joyfully branded coin. Some moved it's meaning to "Do Only Good Everday" it was used as a rallying call for charitable pursuits (giving to charities in the name of Doge) and spreading crypto (Doge sponsored Nascar car). What was Doge doing? It was lightening the heft of digital assets, it wasn't saying destroy all central banks, sound money must conquer, the world is evil. Meme coins are saying come join the culture, see what it's about. A few dog coins have successfully followed in Doge's footsteps the largest being Shiba Inu.
Shiba Inu (Shibatoken.com) fairly launched on uniswap and surged to 41 billion in market cap over a 12 month span. It had an ecosystem created around it with leash, bone, and Shibaswap. It has made it on CNBC, CNN, and nearly every major news outlet. It made it into the top 10 coins and even dethroned Doge for a bit. Part of this was thanks to it being an ERC 20, some would argue the "Ethereum Doge," which made it much easier to trade anywhere and everywhere. It was listed on Coinbase, FTX, Binance, and every major exchange. It onboarded countless people into crypto and ignited their interests, it created a cohesive community around itself that lives to this day.
These memes are important, they are culture builders, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, etc. spend every day, 24/7, building the memes of our current financial market. They get paid handsomely for doing so. What if the ways we transmit culture were decentralized and merged with branding, marketing, social networks, and shared ownership? That is meme coins.
A new breed of meme coins is now emerging that signal an important shift towards more intentional creation of "shared elements of our culture." The crypto twitter sphere, and more narrowly NFT heads, used four letters every day to greet each other and pass on elements of the culture: "gm (good morning)" and "gn (good night)". The element of culture being passed on was one of care, community, and positivity. A project (gmwagmi.io) then took that element and tokenized it, fairly launching the token on Uniswap (no presale, VCs, etc.) the team and those in the know still pick up tokens at the beginning, but they were also the builders and should have some economic benefit (but you can argue many ways on what's the best way to launch a token).
gm is a culture, a brand, a meme. If people see and buy it they hopefully find the positivity and community tied to it. Just as buying the fluffy Shiba Inu coin brought a sense of levity. It's like buying a "life is good" shirt It's not a sound asset, it's not an investment, it's a statement. Now we are living in Web 3.0, we are living in the world of digital assets, which means statements and memes can carry economic value, should you come in expecting it? No. Do many people come in expecting it? Unfortunately, yes.
The economic growth is what gets these memes on CNBC and get's it in front of your mom and grandpa. It is a positive part of the system, but there is something so much more important happening. The meme is growing, the greatest memes on earth (our financial system and nation system) run our entire lives. We are now reinventing our lives digitally. The metaverse is already here, art, NFTs, brands, meme coins, will be its culture. Just like CS-DOS was computers, digital assets ARE web 3.0, they ARE the Metaverse now, as we speak. Sure they are primitive and rough around the edges but so was every single technology at the beginning.
Meme coins (Bitcoin included, just because it has gone mainstream and become the "Supreme" or "Calvin Klein" of brands doesn't mean it isn't a brand) are integral to our system and culture. They onboard millions of people. This new breed of meme coins around specific parts of our culture (like gm) educate thousands if not millions of people on a part of our culture and a part of our ethos. Do not come into meme coins looking to make money, come at meme coins as part of the culture and join their communities, learn about them, learn about why they exist. This knowledge will take you down the rabbit hole of digital assets. This is the point of memes, culture, branding, to bring people into the fold and make them a part of the community so they can help grow the community.
I would also push new meme coin projects to take on this same pattern: the lightness and charity of Doge with the focused cultural spread of gm. What parts of our culture need to be passed from one individual to another? Spoiler alert, not another breed of dog. NFTs are doing this, they are just a more curated and low supply meme coin system. They are crafted art to evoke feelings, emotions, and culture creation. Look at your meme coin as the same. Buy the "t-shirt" and rock it, become a part of the group you care about that speaks to you.
It's always been about the memes.