Everyone has encountered the “duck face” before, be it in a Facebook photo or accidentally stumbling across a slew of sorority girls during a picture-taking session. It is a horrifying face–one that should never be made, let alone copied by every other ditzy girl in the world. Although the duck face is not what people typically think about when it comes to the word meme, usually people think of either a viral video or an image that surges in popularity and recognition. Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” to describe a behavioral pattern that is passed along by non-genetic methods, imitation. The concept of the meme explains how behavioral patterns and ideas can spread. In this way the duck face is indeed a meme in that it is a behavioral pattern that is spread by others imitating a behavior.
The duck face meme exists solely out of a behavioral component. In general, the person who makes the duck face is most likely annoying, a teenager, and in a sorority. The duck face could possibly have evolved from Ben Stiller in Zoolander; his character continuously makes a face very similar to the duck face. It is possible that this face, Blue Steel, was imitated and eventually transformed itself into what is now known as the duck face. It has become a ubiquitous expression which looks especially ridiculous when paired with someone who looks like they have lived inside a tanning bed their entire life.
The incredible popularity of the duck face can be attributed to the fact that it is so easy to mock and imitate. The duckface is also part of a memeplex which can be associated with the memes of “photobombing” and “the sorority squat”; this memeplex can possibly help increase transmission of the meme. This is possible by that while the other memes are being transmitted the duckface could be transmitted as well. These can all be linked together in a memeplex because many of these memes will be transmitted and replicated all in quick succession or at the same time. If you see a person doing the duckface, your initial reaction might be to think that they look absurd; however, soon enough, you will find yourself making the exact same face. It might be to just see what you look like or to see if you can do it, but inevitably, you will give in. If you make the duckface after witnessing it there is a good chance you will become the next generation of infectors for the meme. As Dawkins said, Darwinism depends on high fidelity gene replication (Blackmore, 7); this makes it important that a meme can be easily and accurately replicated. As for the longevity of the meme I hope that the duck face does not last much longer; however, given its current popularity, chances are that the duck face will exist for at least a few more years. Since the expression is so easily replicated, it must have very high fidelity, accounting for its widespread existence.
Dawkins offers an intriguing and possibly life-changing perspective on how humans and human cultures have evolved. According to Dawkins, amazingly all of society and human behavior as a whole can be attributed to memes and imitation occurring for thousands of years. However, although meme theory is interesting, it does have some flaws, including the difficulty of classifying what is and isn’t a meme. However, it is still a very credible theory because it helps explain how behavior and fads spread. Every year there will be a new fad or fashion that has come about, this is because a few people start a fad that many people will imitate. Although humans are imitating creatures, humans are also lazy; because of this humans will imitate behaviors or looks that are easy to replicate. This is the reason why absurd memes like the duck face are widespread and will continue to persist throughout the future, not because of their usefulness or look, but mainly because of their ease of replication and high-fidelity.