Evidence in Motion

Kathryn Cross | Wellesley College

Millennials send them to one another in order to convey a message or portray relatable content. For instance, one popular meme is the “Math Lady/Confused Lady,” which is a video of Brazilian actress Renata Sorrah with an extremely confused expression as math formulas surround her on the screen. There is no accurate way to measure the popularity of a meme because memes can be recreated with different captions and posted to numerous social media outlets; nonetheless, this meme has been published, shared, liked, and spread throughout social media with numerous captions, such as “When a woman says she’s 29 weeks pregnant,” which was posted on 9Gag.

While this video has seemingly arbitrary content, memes like the aforementioned gives satisfaction to millennials that an entire culture has been created around it. The culture is especially concentrated within college campuses. Most large, established colleges have their very own meme pages; and, as memes become increasingly relatable to a broader audience, meme Facebook group membership increases and may even spread beyond attendees of that college. This can be observed in a “The Tab” survey, which revealed that 31% of respondents thought that the UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens, University of California, Berkeley’s meme group, was the best college meme group in America.

“The Tab” explained that it was a widely glorified meme group because it discusses how time-consuming computer science is and how unhealthy college students are--amongst other reasons. The group is clearly quite popular seeing as it has 104,247 members as of July 27, 2017, but UC Berkeley enrolled only 27,496 undergraduate students and 10,708 graduate students in 2015; the admittance numbers have not wavered immensely since then. Although some of the memes on the page are solely applicable to UC Berkeley students, most of the memes are nihilistic, existential, and about general obstacles that all college students face--such as having so much work that one cannot even shower.

As millennials enter college, they face increasing pressure and work, and it seems as though one of the central coping mechanisms of this generation is relation to one another. Memes create a platform for people to see just how many other millennials relate to a certain concept--no matter how niche it is. (This can be seen in the 50,151-follower page, “I feel personally attacked by this relatable content.”) Thus, this communication makes people see that he, she, or they are not alone in what they are facing. So, it is no wonder that millennials gravitate towards the UC Berkeley memes page the most.

Even Forbes contributor Shama Hyder wrote that “Millennials are inspired by people they can relate to.” Hyder cites that anyone that millennials love anyone who relates to music, creativity, and social causes. Although some memes do not directly involve music, the humorous side of creating a good meme makes memes wonderful. On top of that, many memes are satirical towards social issues, or they relate to common social concepts--such as existentialism.

Consequently, meme culture continues to grow. Memes culture could even be perceived as a literary movement--much like realism--or a reactionary movement to the fray of the 2008 recession that affected so many millennials so heavily. In a time when the United States government is what it has never been before, meme culture could be millennials’ method of reminding themselves that in the end everyone relates to some common ground--there is still normalcy even in a crazed political and economic climate.

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