Don't mess with memes.
By: Jay Kim, English Column Writer
That was the message thousands of people hoped to convey to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2016 after the billionaire continually took down many meme pages, a process known as getting "zucced." If a post was deemed inappropriate or provocative, Facebook took measures by postblocking, banning, and deleting the user’s post.
As a member of the UC Berkeley meme page since my freshman year in highschool, I found UC Berkeley Memes For Kiwi Loving Teens quite unique in both its taste and originality. Their victims are a wide array of people including both students and non-students: a typical meme would stereotype against students in the EECS program as socially awkward virgins and Haas students as snakes who would willingly backstab their friends. For a brief moment, convicted felon and former businessman Martin Shkreli even took the highlight of the stage as the self-proclaimed “Pharmabro” trolled the page by hosting live streams and posting his phone number on the page for members to call him. The meme page, as the original college meme group, then proceeded to spark students in other colleges to start their own meme pages like the Official Unofficial Penn Squirrel Catching Club of University of Pennsylvania and Columbia Buy Sell Memes of Columbia University, two popular college meme pages aside from UCBMFKLT.
The reason why meme culture is so pervasive in our generation is that we, as millenials, have built various networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit into platforms that serve as primary hubs that foster such a unique sense of humor. Nowadays, it has become simply impossible to scroll through a Facebook feed and not see memes. Reddit has its own subreddit called /r/memes. Some even jokingly classify the level of their friendship by quantifying how many memes they tag each other in a week.
Although these photo-text creations are meant to intrigue us through its sardonic humor and are generally permissible, some posts have garnered controversy as people began to feel uncomfortable or even offended by how insensitive people were: For instance, critics point out that people stretch their boundaries and make memes on topics that are often taboo to joke about, such as suicide. Tide pods memes have become a norm and posts that look for “sugar daddies” are overlooked as well.
However, should these memes be censored? Should we try to be mindful of others who may or may not be offended? Memes are a form of art where its main purpose is to enjoy the creator’s pun, alongside a funny picture, by sharing with others. The humor intrinsically relies on the irony of how relatable the post is. The more relatable the post is, the more reactions it would yield, shown through the number of “likes” on Facebook or retweets on Twitter. What meme culture differs from a typical, yet no doubt hilarious, scripted television show like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is the broad spectrum of topics which one can laugh about. The small things that we may have overlooked could turn out as a funny pun with a creative mind, bestowing us with a guilty pleasure of a five second giggle during studying. It resonates with us in various levels. If Cal students have made the concept of depression and suicide as trivial, I don’t see a problem with that; rather, I feel like it reflects who we truly are. We may be stressed, sleep-deprived, and always looking for internships; however, we are edgy teens that know how to sublimate our daily L’s to the urge to make some dank memes. As an ardent supporter of the meme culture, I am strongly against the idea of censorship, or even setting the boundaries for topics of memes, as it will lead to the doom of the whole culture that defines our generation.
Don’t mess with memes.