Created By: GlennMagusHarvey on June 8, 2011 Last Edited By: GlennMagusHarvey on October 20, 2011


A meme within a meme or meta-meme structure.

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(Formerly titled "fad")

A sub-meme is a meme within a given meme structure.

While a typical meme would exist independently in relation to other memes--for example, Rickrolling is just about unexpectedly foisting a Rick Astley song onto someone--a "sub-meme" is a meme that exist within the context of another meme, or a meta-meme.

(The term "fad" was coined by the people of YTMND, whose wiki contains information on many of their fads, some of which are their takes on popular memes (such as the Rickroll) but some of which are unique to YTMND (such as the famous NEDM and the more obscure Fuckfish). The term has since spread to YouTube Poop. Fads in YTP are sub-memes that have developed within the YTP structure.)

Such sub-memes or "fad"s are not just trends or common features. They are intentional forms often specified their creators. Fads most commonly exist in comedic media, and especially in media items that can be quickly produced, such as webpages, videos, and fanart (as opposed to entire TV series or novels); this is in part because the creation and propagation of fads relies greatly on Memetic Mutation to keep the fad current. Fads usually exist because they give creators an outlet to small doses of creativity that would otherwise stay on the drawing board; the internet is very enabling in this regard.

A partial list of YTMND fads:
  • NEDM
  • Blue Ball Machine
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
  • fuck math
  • O RLY
  • One Weakness
  • Epic Maneuver

A partial list of YouTube Poop fads:
  • X does Y for Z minutes (or seconds): repetition of a usually short video clip for a specified amount of time. Built mostly around being unfunny.
  • X does Y while I play unfitting music: same as above, but Soundtrack Dissonance.
  • THIS VIDEO CONTAINS X: a music-based meme, in which (usually) Dr. Robotnik's voice from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, usually specifically saying "pingas", is made to "sing" tunes from various sources. This is accompanied by a picture of a partially-drawn Dr. Robotnik against a blue background, usually with a relevant character's head shopped onto Robotnik's head.
  • "Squidward": an image is transformed in various ways, in time with a short clip of music from Trauma Center.
  • Tennis: an exchange of YTP videos between two users, replying to each other through the videos. (Such exchange need not actually contain anything meaningful, but typically involves further "pooping" of each other's videos.)
  • YTPMV: stands for "Youtube Poop Music Video", and generally involves Stupid Statement Dance Mixes of silly dialogue/scenes.
  • X Leaves the Stove On: a multi-part fad involving (1) footage from a source relevant to X, possibly edited, set to a certain Pikachu character song from Pokémon, then (2) a character (usually from said relevant source but the original video didn't do this) has its lines syllable-mixed against a beat to make said character sing part of Samwell's "What What in the Butt", and then (3) some sort of ending, possibly declaring that said Samwell song is evil.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • June 8, 2011
    Is "fad" the official term used for this, because it is a word older than the Internet, so...
  • June 8, 2011
    Yeah, "fad" doesn't mean this to most people, and this really seems to be Memetic Mutation But More Specific.

    It looks like you put a lot of effort into this, but I don't think it's tropable.
  • June 8, 2011
    The term "fad" has been used on in both the YTMND and YTP communities for this.
  • June 8, 2011
    Doesn't mean they "coined" the word. Educate youself. "a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., especially one followed enthusiastically by a group. Origin: 1825-35; noun use of dial. fad to look after things, busy oneself with trifles, back formation from obsolete faddle to play with, fondle."
  • June 8, 2011
    Fourthing that "fad" is a pre-existing term reserved for something else entirely. Needs A Better Title.
  • June 8, 2011
    Sub-meme? There is a need for a term for things that aren't quite full-fledged memes in themselves but are part of a larger meta-meme.
  • June 11, 2011
    Well, blame YTMND for co-opting an existing term rather than coming up with something themselves.
  • June 11, 2011
    I think 'meme' is entirely the wrong word.
  • June 11, 2011

  • June 13, 2011
    YTMND didn't misuse the term, they just didn't originate it.

    This is all kinds of a mess.
  • June 13, 2011
    I'd thought from the laconic description even that this was just the normal word "fad," and that this was just the common definition phrased rigorously in terms of meme theory (of which I have absolutely no clue, other than a general idea that a "meme" is anything that's passed on in culture, from funny cat pictures to the size, time, and composition of an ideal breakfast).

    So... yeah, I'm going to say that this specific usage is specific to those two "structures," and thus far Too Rare To Trope.
  • July 22, 2011
    So maybe a more specific term is in order? I suggested "sub-meme". Would that make a better name? (I'm going to rename it this so that people will pay more attention to this idea.)
  • July 22, 2011
    I believe that combining Xzibit and Inception jokes on Memebase may qualify for this trope.
  • July 22, 2011
    I think we are forgetting demi-memes wrapped around quantum-sub-sub-memes nested within a larger anti-meme structure....
  • July 24, 2011
    Do those Youtube comments with "X people had something to do with the video happen to them" with X being the number of dislikes count?

  • October 20, 2011
    @Chabal2: Yes; that's definitely been described as a fad before.
  • October 20, 2011
    Memetic Inception? Joking aside, that "X does Y while I play unfitting music" isn't just for YT Ps, in the strictest sense of the term (i.e. with narmy video clips). I've seen games being played with unfitting music (that isn't C Di-type junk) before. One example is Chip's Challenge WHILE I PLAY UNFITTING MUSIC, which I guess is a sub-level of the original unfitting music...