Memes were a mistake

Off the Beat

On March 2, 2015, Keurig K-Cup inventor John Sylvan admitted that he regretted creating his coffee-brewing invention.

“I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” Sylvan said in an interview with the Atlantic, regarding the disposable, nonrecyclable cups of coffee grounds that are quickly filling up landfills and polluting the Earth.

Just like Sylvan regrets inventing the seemingly revolutionary K-Cup, I regret making UC Berkeley Memes For Edgy Teens.

On May 2, 2016, after browsing /r9k/ and /b/ on 4chan for hours, like I had been doing for the past three years, I decided to create a group in the hopes of finding some people who actually liked the same humor that I did in my own community. Three days later, after adding 10 of my friends — three of whom left automatically — and putting up a post on Free & For Sale promising “dank memes” for $420, I had my first 69 members. Which is all I could have ever asked for. Because, nice.

Although I had created the page as an open group, it remained relatively small and did not break 400 members until September. At that point, I was still happy. I had a small group that produced decent content, and I could kill half an hour a day during the summer trying to create something spicy.

And then my Harambe vigil happened. This is probably the point where, if I were Sylvan, I’d be going, “Huh, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”

After holding a candlelight vigil for a dead ape (God rest his soul) that 3,680 people RSVP’d to on Facebook and about 300 people actually showed up to, there was a flood of new followers from word of mouth and Facebook shares of the event. It got to the point where UCBMFET would gain 1,000 followers from universities all over the globe every few days. At first, I was ecstatic because my baby was growing up. But after a couple of weeks went by, I began to realize that my baby was turning into a meme-killing monster.

The influx of normies had converted my own personal meme cesspool into the first page of Reddit by November. The dankness was completely gone and replaced with wholesome memes, “you vs. the guy she told you not to worry about” memes and Student Problems reposts. My vision of a free, open medium in which UC Berkeley students could share some edgy memes quickly came crashing down. UC Berkeley Memes For Edgy Teens was quickly becoming “UC Berkeley Memes Where Non-Berkeley Students Post Stale Garbage.”

It wasn’t until about December that I came to a conclusion: UC Berkeley doesn’t deserve an edgy meme page. In fact, it doesn’t deserve any meme page at all.

The masses complain about my page’s strict moderation yet also complain about the poor quality of other knock-off university meme pages that allow completely open submissions. They give unoriginal reposts 2,000 likes and let original content drift into the abyss. They think it’s funny to bash EECS majors for being virgins and not showering yet start a shitshow when a meme is made about Sather Gate protesters. Administering UCBMFET has been glorified babysitting for the past four months.

But then again, how could I ever expect UC Berkeley to get behind anything remotely edgy? Chads and Stacys on frat row acted as if a “Mean Girls” meme was a livestreamed video of a baby squirrel in a blender. Student groups and professors sent me a statement with fancy annotations and footnotes trying to force me and my admins to enforce a policy to delete nihilist memes.

You can’t post anything remotely edgy without someone calling for your head.

After effectively tripling our ban rate and preventing anyone else from joining, the page is slowly but surely getting just a teensy bit better. But no matter how much better it might become, the past eight months have taught me that memes were a mistake.

But whether I like it or not, I am UC Berkeley Memes For Edgy Teens. People know my name because of my memes, not because of my articles. A picture of a dog wearing an apron I posted got more likes than anything I had ever written for The Daily Californian. That shit cuts deep, yo.

So until UCBMFET returns to greatness — or returns to its least horrible point — I will be watching. You can bet that I’ll be banning reposters, ignoring messages and enjoying a hand-cut, never-frozen steak from Sizzler. Now you’re talking.

“Off the Beat” columns are written by Daily Cal staff members until the spring semester’s regular opinion columnists have been selected. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the UC Berkeley Memes For Edgy Teens group was created in 2015. In fact, it was created in 2016.

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