For those of us who had Facebook pages 10 or so years ago, the Facebook of today is very different from what it used to look like. In middle school, Facebook news feeds consisted of angsty teen and pre-teen status updates, complete with awkward pictures and bathroom selfies. Today, Facebook is more or less an amalgamation of professionally taken photos, news stories, viral videos and memes. Lots and lots of memes.
Urban Dictionary’s top definition for a “meme” states that a meme is “not a word, it’s a lifestyle.” They are a form of expression made possible by technology and driven forward by the fast-paced nature of social media. Memes, interestingly enough, are more accurate representations of daily life than pictures or words could ever be on their own. There is something about captioning a picture in a way that appeals to a particular group that makes memes unique. It is not just the photos or captions alone that make memes so enjoyable — it is the often seemingly random conjunction of pictures and words that garners an emotional response.
Mediums such as Facebook make it extremely convenient for memes to be widely shared. College students are especially notorious for “tagging” their friends in relatable memes, expressing togetherness in a way the world has never really seen before. UC Berkeley’s pride and joy, UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens or UCBMFET, is a prime, though slightly strange at times, example of the universality and unanimity of college meme culture.
This page serves more than 119,800 members, the majority of whom are college students, and bombards them with endless entertainment in the form of relatable academically-oriented memes. The memes on UCBMFET are created by community members, often reflecting daily on-campus events — memes are a vehicle by which students convey current events on the Berkeley campus in a nonconventional, often satirical way.
There is a meme page for fans of basically anything you can think of: dogs, politics, cartoon characters … the list really is endless. Personally, there is a particular Facebook page I frequent called, “Cool Doggo Memes.” Cool Doggo Memes consists of a variety of pupper-themed, captioned photos that dog and meme lovers alike can enjoy. Understanding doggo memes requires a previous knowledge of doggo meme jargon, including words such as bamboozled (a word that basically signifies confusion in any context) and bork (for a dog’s bark).
Doggo memes also purposefully misspell words, such as fren (friend) and heckin (heck? or any other rated R version of that word), and defy grammar rules in an effort to better illustrate how dogs would “talk.” Doggo memes have literally created their own language, and for the most part, people between the ages of 12 and 30 understand and sometimes use this new language, having been exposed to it on Facebook.
Memes are, and will continue to be, one of the fastest growing methods of communication on the Internet. They evoke a sense of togetherness of mind and experience that most other forms of media cannot do on their own. So maybe Urban Dictionary is right. Are memes really more than just words or pictures and have they evolved into a lifestyle? Honestly, I don’t have the answer to that question, so for now, in the words of my favorite Facebook doggos: Heckin’ bamboozled.
Contact Rachel Henry at [email protected]