Since Richard Dawkins coined the word in 1976, meme has become familiar to social media users as a captioned graphic used to convey a thought meant to be amusing, inspiring, or informative and shareworthy. Thanks to their popularity, memes have spawned slapdash versions consisting of little more than a colored square containing words. Many, however, reflect considerable creativity and labor. Unfortunately, many otherwise attractive memes are marred by inattention to basic language conventions.
Many writers—even professional ones—are wary about employing semicolons, at best because the punctuation mark carries a hint of excessive formality and at worst because users aren’t clear on the concept. However, some writers who do use them are confused, too, and are apt to include semicolons when they aren’t warranted. Unnecessary semicolons litter the following sentences, and the discussions and revisions that follow each example explain the problem and offer solutions.