A good meme must satisfy two criteria:
By relevance, what I mean is that the viewer must be able to immediately relate between the image and its caption. On the other hand, the image must a powerful enough symbol so as to make sure that we need not have a long text to accompany the meme. If we follow these two rules, we will be able to use images that apparently have nothing to do with the scenario, yet, describe the situation perfectly. Take, for example, this one:
Me: Mom, my stomach hurts.
Mom: That’s because you are always on your phone.
The blank stare, the unhappy face and the clear gesture of confusion of the Persian Cat Room Guardian accurately demonstrates our reaction to such an absurd response. In short, here, instead of expressing our emotion with a lot of words, we replaced it with a single, relevant, powerful image. In fact, in my opinion, memes are but advanced forms of emoticons.
Sometimes, the association may come from a different source instead of the photo itself, but from the circumstances from which the photo originated. For example:
Me: Oh God please get me outta this mess I’ll behave for the rest of my life oh Lord please…
Most Internet users would be familiar with the song “Why the Fuck You Lyin’?” from which this song originates. Constant use has made this association in our head, allowing us to instantly recognize this as a reaction to lying.
Of course, connections may be artificially created as well, as a result of constant usage, but that’s a different issue of discussion.