The history behind the meme: How Italians do things

The history behind the meme: How Italians do things

A meme is a photo, video or phrase that is spread via the internet with the intention of being funny and/or creative, and believe it or not is a real word in the dictionary. Memes are often seen on social media, including; Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. The memes that I often found the most amusing were photos with different captions. There are plenty of social media accounts that are actually dedicated to posting solely memes. Apparently a good knock knock joke doesn?t do the trick anymore these days.

Now I?m not sure if it?s because I?m second generation Italian myself, but the ?How Italians do things? meme always stood out to me. If you aren?t familiar with this meme, let me refresh your memory.

Image for postSource: Know your meme

Us Italians are known for using our hands while we speak. Hand gestures are a part of our culture, and we can?t help it. I speak with my hands and 10/10 times never notice myself doing it. There are so many different gestures we use that all have different meanings. It?s just a way of emphasizing something we?re saying. Because apparently words aren?t enough!


The ?How Italians do things? meme uses one particular hand gesture. Bunching up your fingers with your finger tips pointing upwards is a way of saying ?What do you mean?? or ?What are you doing??. It?s a classic. So on March 13, 2017 twitter user @donny_drama created the ?How Italians drink coffee? meme shown above.


Just a day later twitter user @GeorgeResch created a meme of Breaking Bad?s main character Walter White caught doing the hand gesture.

Image for postSource: Know your meme

That SAME day the concept of the meme spread to a different social media platform, Reddit. User CafieroandMalatesta posted a photo of a cat with a curled paw and captioned it ?How Italian cats argue?, see below.

Image for postSource: Know your meme

According to Know your meme, this image received over 9400 votes (90% upvoted) and 90 comments within 24 hours. From here the meme went viral.


Many different variations of the meme were created, here are a few examples.

Image for postSource: Know your memeImage for postSource: Me.meImage for postSource: Know your meme

Search Interest

I did a quick search using Google trends to see how interested people were in this meme. I typed in ?how Italians do things meme? and customized my date range from March 1, 2017 to February 21, 2018 to see how things have changed over time. A graph was generated, and these were the results.

Image for postSource: Google trends

As expected, interest was at it?s highest around March 13 2017 when the meme was created. From March 18 to March 25 interest declined significantly. Google trends also revealed interest by region.

Image for postSource: Google trends

Worldwide, the meme created most interest in people from primarily Australia, then Italy, the UK, Canada, and finally USA. There must be a large population of relatable Italians in these regions! The graph generated reveals that until this day, interest in the meme has fluctuated from none to little. I guess it was just one of those things that was funny, but not funny enough to keep generating a meme around. New memes are being made every day, so perhaps out with the old and in with the new.


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