2016 should be deemed the year of the meme. I feel a combination of disgust and admiration for this fact, and for memes in general. The number of late night Facebook notifications I’ve had from being tagged in memes is innumerable, as is the sum of hours I’ve spent appreciating said memes. While this internet trend is fun and undeniably comical, it serves a bigger purpose than merely making people laugh. Memes, as silly as this sounds, connect people. They can be sent in lieu of a text response, or even as an apology. Memes are versatile.
It seems as if there is a relatable meme for every single person. I was added to a GroupMe a few weeks ago that serves the sole purpose of sharing memes back and forth, and although the notifications from it are getting old, I think it is incredible. The GroupMe originated at Boston University (sorry) but includes students from several schools in Boston. There can occasionally be some rivalry-related hostility, but generally it is used exclusively to share memes that others find humorous. I have trouble thinking of anything that could connect separate colleges in this city so closely, but the meme has achieved the status as builder of bridges.
While there has been an overwhelming amount of mass relatable content since the creation of websites like Tumblr and Twitter, few have been as relatable as memes. Maura Monaghan, class of 2019, states, “Memes take a minute of daily life and add humor. The weird part is that no one can really explain why a certain picture can set off an internet frenzy as opposed to another.” Memes are relatable not only because they are able to—with sometimes shockingly accurate precision—depict real life scenarios, but also because they are topical. They inform the public of the important events occurring around us. Many memes depicting political and social issues are able to portray them in ways that can be digested by the general public. These current event related memes require people to take action and look up the news to fully understand the humor in it. However, this can be a double edged sword. By making political and social issues comical in a meme the seriousness of the issues is downplayed, and in some scenarios mocked. Pre and post-election, there have been countless memes related to Donald Trump. Although they’re vaguely terrifying, they are informative and appreciated by the masses.
Despite the hilarity of memes in general, they serve a wider purpose than to just illicit laughter. They connect people with their humor and approachability. With the overwhelming desire to share them comes an education and connection that is worth every notification.