Hi's Eye

When you realize memes have taken over

Caitlin Hogge and Sarah Fox

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Sophomore Julia Singer starts every day the same way: with a meme. She wakes up to her phone alarm and immediately scrolls through Instagram to see the latest posts from her favorite meme accounts. The next meme sensation has already surfaced all over the internet, and to keep up, she has to constantly be on alert. 

This isn’t how everyone wakes up, though. Guidance Counselor Mr. Andrew Buckner says his first action of the day is checking the news. Most adults don’t even know what a meme is, never mind its impact on society. The generational gap with this phenomenon is very present and continues to grow. 

“I would say memes are a generational thing because adults don’t really understand their purpose and usually don’t find them funny,” said Singer. “I think they really define our generation’s humor and thoughts, so they’re a big part of our culture.”

A meme, according to dictionary.com, is “a humorous image, video or piece of text, that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by internet users.”

Memes can feature anyone from a normal person to a Kardashian, and are taking our culture by storm in good ways and bad. A video of a young boy yodeling in a Walmart went viral and he ended up performing on Ellen and at Coachella, a music festival where the biggest stars perform. Or it can be a classic scene from SpongeBob SquarePants that somehow still applies to our lives so many years after airing.

This year, as part of the senior superlatives section of the WHS yearbook, “Most likely to become a meme” was a featured category. The winner, senior Brendan Riccardi, is honored with his nomination.

“I love to look at memes because my friends and I love to make each other laugh with them—or in my case, make fun of each other by making memes of each other,” he said. “It just so happens that a lot of other students like making memes out of me, which I love because it shows that people care and want to be interactive with me.”

Riccardi attributes the rise in meme popularity to the increased use of technology in all aspects of our lives. “People have the ability to do anything with their phones, and making memes is one of the ways we can have some entertainment in a world so involved with technology,” he said.

While memes may seem like a dumb way for teens to laugh, many people believe that they sometimes dig at a deeper truth.

In his article “Reflections on Internet Culture,” published in the Journal of Visual Culture in 2014, Jonathan L Zittrain explores the purpose of memes: “A meme at its best exposes a truth about something, and in its versatility allows that truth to be captured and applied in new situations,” he writes. 

Take the 2016 presidential election: Facebook and other social networks were covered with political memes typically used to bash the other candidate. Pictures of Kermit the Frog or other trademark images were paired with funny captions to highlight the faults or hypocrisy of the candidates. These images spread like wildfire and altered users’ opinions by bringing to light the concerning issues in a captivating way. 

“I think memes are sometimes more powerful than political cartoons because they can go viral very quickly,” said Buckner. 

So when many teens at WHS wake up and scroll through Twitter in search of the best memes, they should recognize that the sheer popularity of this new medium makes it a powerful tool of communication. A simple meme can be an inside joke among friends—or it can drastically change our way of thinking.

“Memes are becoming such an integral part in our society,” Riccardi said.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    Retiring staff reflect on careers

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    Women’s suffrage: How far have we come?

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    And the award goes to…

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    Opa! Ambeli opens

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    After AP’s, what next?

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    Royal wedding preview

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    ‘A’ for entrepreneurship

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    Most Popular at WHS

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    ’18 students make their picks

  • When you realize memes have taken over

    Features

    Class of ’18: Where to next?