Lighter

What’s In A Meme? Ikea Monkey Goes Viral

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Ikea monkey
Image used by permission from Bronwyn Page.

COLUMN

Who knows why something “catches on” through the Internet?

Somehow it sparks the collective imagination and before you know it, it’s gone “viral.”

That’s what happened last week with the “Ikea monkey.”

Bronwyn Page was in an Ikea (furniture store) parking lot in North York, Ont. on Dec. 9 when she saw something unusual. A little brown monkey wearing a diaper and a tiny, expensive-looking coat.

She took a picture of it with her phone-camera and sent it over the social network Twitter with the message, “Umm saw a monkey in the Ikea parking lot.”

The image caught on.

Before long, people were tweeting and re-tweeting the image. It went viral. Someone even created funny, fake Twitter accounts from the monkey. (As though the monkey was tweeting.)

That’s when the Internet memes started.

An Internet meme (pronounced meem) is an idea or a photo that spreads from person to person; it may be combined with other memes to create something new.ikea mungke meme

People take the original picture—in this case, a monkey in the Ikea parking lot—and they insert it into other pictures or add funny text.

That one monkey picture became a meme, seen by people around the world.

In reality, the monkey is now in a sanctuary. (Sanctuary means “safe place.”)

 

Ikea monkey meme catMonkeys aren’t legal to keep as pets in Toronto. According to one report, its owner had acquired the monkey, named Darwin, after babysitting it when she was living in Montreal. Darwin didn’t want to leave the babysitter—so she ended up taking him home and she grew attached to him.

The owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, was fined $240 for having an illegal pet. At the sanctuary, the staff are trying to get Darwin acting more like a monkey and less like a little human. They say it’s more dignified for an animal to be treated like an animal rather than a human.

Nakhuda plans to take the sanctuary to court to try to get Darwin back. According to the National Post newspaper, she is prepared to move to another city where exotic pets like Darwin are legal. Her case will be heard on Dec. 20.

Meanwhile, Darwin the real monkey is safely being cared for at the sanctuary; Darwin the meme is still spreading throughout the world—and making people chuckle.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
On the social network Twitter, messages have to be 140 characters (letters / digits) or fewer. Write your own Twitter message to accompany Bronwyn Page’s picture of Darwin?

Reading Prompt: Responding to and Evaluating Texts
Yasmin Nakhuda is taking her case to court in order to keep her pet monkey, Darwin. What arguments could she make? What arguments could the province present? Lastly, who will win the case and what will the ruling be?

Primary
Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Junior
Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Intermediate
Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Em dash (—)
The em dash is a punctuation mark that writers use when adding extra information to a sentence. In this way, an em dash can be used like a comma. However, an em dash is different from a comma because it also communicates added emphasis to the additional information. Reread the three examples below from today’s story. Why might the author have chosen to use an em dash in these sentences instead of a comma?

“People take the original picture—in this case, a monkey in the Ikea parking lot—and they insert it into other pictures or add funny text.”

“Darwin didn’t want to leave the babysitter—so she ended up taking him home and she grew attached to him.”

“Meanwhile, Darwin the real monkey is safely being cared for at the sanctuary; Darwin the meme is still spreading throughout the world—and making people chuckle.”