Memes are more than meets the eye

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Today’s world is depressing. Diseases that were supposed to be eradicated by vaccines have come back. Everyday we are slowly destroying our planet and the bees that we depend on for food are dying. Memes, funny pictures that sometimes have captions, allow us to take a break from the stress and give us a reason to laugh.

Memes are an important part of today’s pop culture. They can provide an almost sarcastic way of viewing society and the messed up, insane things that come with it.  People are scared and stressed, and memes help them overcome the confusion and fear concerning the situations they have no power over. The internet made it easy to spread information and awareness, yet it rarely provides solutions, leaving people with the burden of problems with no answers to how to deal with them.

For example, Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Spongebob, died last year. The show brought joy to generations of kids and even had an impact on me. So when the creator of this big part of my childhood died, I felt genuine sadness and so did many other people. Then came along a meme, which made the joke of performing Sweet Victory at the Super Bowl to honor Stephen Hillenburg’s life. Even though it probably wasn’t going to happen, over one million people signed a petition asking for the NFL to perform the song. This is a great illustration of how meme “culture” can unify people in time of loss.

The viral jokes among different social media communities provide people with a sense of belonging to a bigger community. When the jokes that people post go viral, they receive a sense of validation from the community. It is normal to cope with our feelings through humor and a sense of community, as long as we have a clear border separating real from imaginary internet likes.

All memes seem to be are pictures and a few words. But they’re much more than that. They’re a sense of community, a coping mechanism and a way to just have a good laugh.

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