In this rise of the fast, of the straightforward and of the "instant gratification", our visual sense "developed" to include what we now call as memes. These, have risen to become such a popular way of impersonal communication.
What makes memes interesting to study is their own in-built context. It has come to be processed on an almost sub-conscious level, and is capable of transcending language barriers. This instant gratification, without the need for investment, is part of what makes memes so easily digestible - reading even a short joke in a text format requires far more effort than simply glancing at a picture.
Sites such as 9gag & Reddit made it possible for memes to be shared and spread virally with simplicity and ease. This also helped a lot in making memes popular and the more it is shared, the more successful it is. In addition to that, the massive growth in "meme culture" reflects the information overload we are living through.
It's a shame, for those of us who prefer solid, worthy content - but it's just evidence of a shift in communication in the internet age. Memes are the equivalent of idle chatter - they're not supposed to be deep, or meaningful - but a simple way to express ideas and tell short stories.