Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 05:30
  They are six regular Chennai-based guys.   They call themselves Joker, Grim, Cypher, AnniyaN, Bane and DongLee while handling their Facebook page under a cloak of anonymity.    This group of young men, Gautham, Bharat, Ranga, Ram and Adrian, command a sizable Tamil online population’s attention on social media . They, along with a sixth contributor who prefers to remain anonymous, run the "Chennai Memes" page on Facebook.   Started in January 2014, the page regularly uploads memes on everything related to Chennai- from politics to cinema to culture and everything in between.     All this is done of course with a dose of their characteristic sense of humour, which is one trait common to all, apart from a definite knowledge of current affairs.    The kind of humour Tamil memes follow could be little hard to grasp unless one has a deep understanding of local news or developments in the sphere of Tamil cinema.         But it's not just chucklesome content that these guys come up with regularly.    They provide area information, unknown facts about Chennai, posts about popular hangouts and eateries, etc. "We also take up social issues, like the Kodungaiyur Dumpyard one, which has earned us a good name,” says Bane (nickname), speaking to The News Minute.      While a few in the group are engineering graduates working in relevant sectors, one works in a social media firm and another is a Viscom (visual communications) student. One is currently pursuing his engineering degree and the youngest of the lot recently completed his class 12 exams.   Though there are already several Facebook pages related to Chennai, mostly on movies, the group felt that it the space lacked a city-based page that could provide both humour and information. And that is how Chennai Memes was born.    "All our memes are our own creations. We never plagiarise from other sources." Bane says.   The group uses software like Photoshop and apps like meme generator for developing the memes.    Interestingly, the creators of this popular page weren't friends who decided to come up with a quirky Facebook page. They were individuals with common interests who met on the internet.    “The page is channel to showcase our creativity. It is also a kind of a stress buster for us,” he says.   Origin of the word "meme"   Defined as “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”, the word meme was first coined by Richard Dawkins’ in his book, The Selfish Gene.   “We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to ‘memory’, or to the French word même,” he wrote in his book.   It’s not just these six guys who rigorously churn on memes. There are a number of other hilarious meme-based pages which cater to this form of light form of entertainment apart from the off-hand contribution from individuals flooding the internet space.   But for Tamil Nadu, the pastime remains a little closer to heart. "it is not just about the memes. The meme culture in Tamil Nadu is pretty much more widespread here than in other parts of the country," says Bane.   That fan loyalties in Tamil Nadu run long and deep fan loyalties run in an open fact. One succinct example is the constant online tussle between fans of actors Ajith and Vijay.   The Chennai Meme group cleverly sticks to the safest option - to stay neutral in the face of such strong yet friendly turf wars- which has worked in their favour and helped in their growth.   “We have a term for those actor worshipping fans who fight unnecessarily on Facebook. We call them 'veriyans'. And we are an anti-veriyan page and don’t encourage such mindless fights on our platform, “ he says.   This could probably be the reason why their page currently has over 1.05 lakh page likes.   (Image courtesy: Chennai Memes Facebook page) 
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