A Memingful Culture

Despite what many people may think, the internet can be a very memingful place.

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Photo Courtesy of Taylor Terreri

Although the internet has been said to destroy culture, a new culture has been created through memes.

Taylor Terreri, Columnist

Adults say the internet is destroying culture, but teenagers are actually creating their own culture through the spread of memes. Memes are an essential part our culture today (and not to mention very beneficial to today’s youth) because they help teens understand politics and social issues, raise awareness about mental health and other toxic stigmas, and help teens relate to each other and not feel alone during a very complicated time in their life.

Memes are a concept that are very difficult to define to an adult or someone without social media, but in this context, Dictionary.com defines this as “a cultural item in the form of an image, video, or phrase that is spread throughout the internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.” Surprisingly, memes are actually named after a sociology concept. In this context, a meme refers to a cultural norm or idea that is spread from person to person. This term was coined by biologist Richard Dawkins in the mid-1970s. If you think about it, this is basically the exact same definition, except one refers to the internet specifically and one is a more generalized idea.

Oftentimes, these memes inspired by what’s currently going on in the world, with politics, with celebrities, and even simple typos that someone probably found hilarious at 3 a.m.. The majority of memes start on Tumblr, which is a popular social media site where memes are the most prevalent. Although a meme will occasionally start on Twitter, another social media site, Tumblr is usually the cause.

Memes have helped many young people understand politics, such as the upcoming presidential elections’ candidates, and social issues, such as feminism and cultural appropriation. Many memes have been focusing on the candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 elections. Trump’s views on many issues have been made prevalent via memes. Trump has made many comments leading Tumblr users to mock him and spread these posts to other mediums of social media. If it wasn’t for the memes, I would likely be unaware of how Trump feels about a variety of issues. Memes have also spread awareness about feminism by showing how many men feel entitled for a woman to do what he wants with the “straight white boy” jokes. These jokes about those interesting heterosexual and caucasian males typically depict the social advantages that men have over women. Memes regarding feminism also tackle slut-shaming, racism, and many other issues. Cultural appropriation has been yet another issue to be brought to the public’s attention; these show how offensive and ignorant to take a sacred piece from a culture that’s not your own and make it into a fashion statement. They show how uneducated and disrespectful of a decision it really is.

Not to mention, memes have helped raise awareness about mental health issues and stereotypes. They’ve shown common thoughts and symptoms of mental illnesses, such as having difficulty talking to people and losing motivation to do many “normal” things. The Pepe the Frog and “you gotta” memes have been very effective in doing this. The “you gotta” meme really demonstrates the fact that it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to control your mental illness extremely well. This is a very important message to spread because many people are unaware of the subject. Memes have also combatted stereotypes. They’ve shown us the horrifying, unfair treatment of PoC’s (people of color) in our society by employers, the police, security personnel, and the public in general. Almost every meme has dealt with this issue in one way or another.

“Memes bring people together, ironically,” says freshman Mauren Tagg, and she’s right; memes can be a great way to meet people with similar interests. Many people who are very well informed on memes tend to have similar values, music taste, and sense of humor (obviously). These are some of the key components of a friendship for myself and many others and memes have been an effective way for me to meet new people. You can tell a joke and you already know that you’ll get at least one laugh. It’s very reassuring, especially if you find it hard to talk to others. Not only do memes help you make new friends and meet new people, they can even help you relate to other people. Many memes often explain what having a mental disorder, experiencing racism, experiencing sexism, having fake friends, and many other issues that teenagers deal with, feels like. This helps us relate to each other in real life and be more respectful of others around us. They show us other perspectives and help us become more tolerant.

Sure, your parents say that the internet is turning you into an uncultured swine, but is it really? It’s just another way our culture is changing. Even though this culture may mean little to them, this generation finds it a memingful piece of culture.  

Pepe the Frog is an image of a (usually) sad looking frog that is often used as a reaction image, but it is often edited and altered to become a “rare Pepe.” Pepes also commonly look smug or angry.

Poot Lovato is a picture of Demi Lovato taken from an unflattering angle that people have been joking about it being her twin sister “Poot,” who has been locked in the basement for all of her life. The joke has also began to be replicated with other celebrities.

“Miley, what’s good?” references Nicki Minaj calling Miley Cyrus out on rude comments at the Video Music Awards (VMAs).

“spoopy” is a typo of the word “spooky” that has become extremely popular because it’s October.

“you gotta” is often used to explain mental illness symptoms, procrastination, awkward social situations etc.

Deg Deg ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) is a common text face used to show interest in something.

FIGHT ME (ง’̀-‘́)ง is a common text face used to defend an opinion or action. No one actually fights, it is just a phrase.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ this is a common text face used to display how someone may react to situations in which you either do not have control or choose to make a bad decision that you’ll likely regret later.