In light of our former president, Cindy Nguyen’s, latest revelation ‘What is a Harambe?’, I have come to ponder why such an obscure and seemingly irrelevant (to us) event, has captured so many of our hearts and thoughts. The meme of the late Cincinnati Zoo gorilla is one that surfaced months after the incident itself occurred, yet one that we cannot seem to let go of. I know what you’re thinking; come on Karolina, really, memes are the best you can do? Well, to answer your question, yes, but hear me out! Perhaps, there is a greater meaning to all of these obscure internet shenanigans, and perhaps memes are really a lot more #relatable than we realize.
In true spirit of unoriginality, the urban dictionary definition of a meme; interestingly, this totally reliable source displayed two unique definitions of this word that in particular caught my eye: 1) random or contentless information generated by the internet, and 2) a thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a virus of the mind contagious to the impressionable. Whilst I give props to urban dictionary for being surprisingly poetic in it’s explanation of the term, it surprised me to see the word displayed in such a negative light, considering the huge societal impact that memes have had in the past few years.
I strongly disagree with the connotation of a meme being ‘contentless’, as content is what really makes a meme worth sharing and giving attention. Sure, the content of memes may not always be exactly mature, or serious, but that shouldn’t change our minds of how impactful they are. As our very own editor Holly Nugent, victim of countless tagged posts (tag someone who reminds you of a chicken nugget?), can assure you, there’s something about the obscurity and randomness of this newfound form of communication, that really hits you in the feels, as memes continue to capture exactly how we’re feeling in the most unique and creative way.
What we however, as college students may find hilarious, society may find immature, vulgar, and irrelevant. Many a spoof on childhood favourites have been frowned upon by more ‘mature’ adults (apparently not everyone is a fan of Arthur’s fist memes after all), and even a frog on a unicycle saying the longest ‘yeah boi’ will fail to impress many. Adults lack to see what could possibly be so amusing by these silly jokes, often controversial and almost edging on insensitive, but that exactly, is wherein lies our problem.
Having grown up in the nineties’ era of nostalgia and change, our youth is often misunderstood, our opinions almost always disregarded or completely forgotten in amidst everything happening around us. In a world where children falling into zoo enclosures is becoming a surprising trend, politics closely resemble a reality TV show, and Lecture Capture is an unreliable game of risk, it is no surprise that we as young people are frustrated and upset about our opinions not being heard. It has become a challenge for us to get our ideas across to the world, so much so, that the internet has been left as our only hope. And that of course, is when, you guessed it, MEMES, come in to play.
The meme culture has submerged itself so much so into our younger generations, that it has provided another dimension of communication to us, being a way to bond over similar beliefs, stances, and ideals. People from any background, regardless of interests or ideals, can find humour in common confusion and frustration. It’s that common bond that makes us feel slightly less alone in our everyday mishaps, struggles, and pet hates. No matter how different you are from the person sitting next to you in a lecture, tram, or at the dinner table, chances are you can both find the same happiness and amusement in the many comical imperfections that come with being a sleep deprived, confused, and slightly lost in life twenty – something year old. And no matter how rough or outrageous the drama of the outside world becomes, it’s nice to know that we can at least get a sincere laugh out of it, knowing that we’re not alone. For every edgy teen, there is a #relatable meme.