Best of all, they’re easy to disown. If a meme doesn’t land, you can always say that you just found it somewhere. Or you can say you were hacked. Or, better yet, you can tell people that it’s just a joke, and that they’re getting way too bent out of shape about your Photoshop of Michelle Obama being burned alive. Memes give people an excuse to pretend that they didn’t mean what they meant. It’s hate speech disguised as dicking around. That veneer of levity makes it that much easier to get people to look at your meme, and perhaps even hit the “like” button. Much more effective than dropping Cold War-era agitprop flyers onto lawns across exurban America.
Trump will be known as the first US president to master the internet. Continuing a historical legacy from FDR’s radio to JFK’s use of the TV. It’s a massive advantage, but it indicates something larger than your analysis shows. Memes are but one part of the coming decentralization of our society. A consequence of the growing “global brain.” While in its infancy, the full scale of this transformation will be absolutely enormous. The fragmentation of sociopolitical discourse is the first domino to fall. I attempt to trace the entire phenomena here: