Remarkably, just a few months prior, China’s internet had experienced a similar explosion of activity. In November 2011, net activists began posting photos of themselves wearing sunglasses on Sina Weibo, China’s most popular Twitter-like microblog service. It started as a trickle but soon grew into dozens and dozens of photos and comics. Wearing sunglasses, like wearing a hoodie, is by itself apolitical. The power lay in the collective action, distributed across a network of supporters.
The thing that fascinates me most about the life of political memes isn’t necessarily the spread (they’re fairly easy to map) but the “anti-memes” ”counter-memes” (artist and educator mona kasra has suggested the more fitting “counter-memes”) that will occasionally pop up to try and counter and stop the original meme from spreading:
“There were a number of images that went viral with bad information,” noted Cheese. “These mostly fake images of Trayvon were posted on Facebook with false information about him and his background, trying to paint him as this unsympathetic character.” The meme provided a countervailing and, soon, overwhelming alternative picture of the young man.