Recently, users of the popular social media community, Reddit, declared a “meme war” on CNN, drawing the attention of thousands across the world. A Reddit user had created an animated meme dissing CNN, prompting a CNN journalist to uncover the user’s personal identity. Users protested the invasion of the user’s privacy, and banded together to degrade CNN’s reputation.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a meme is any idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person in a culture. Recent memes are usually humorous and image-based.They have always been an integral part of social media, and are usually used to satirize important events. Consequently, many have criticized memes for making light of serious situations, whereas others have defended it, stating that memes help unite internet users.
Corey Chen, a rising sophomore attending Troy High School, defended memes. “Memes like Harambe (a meme about a gorilla whom many alleged was killed needlessly) helped unite the often-fractured online communities. By sharing humorous images and phrases mourning Harambe’s death, internet users helped spread the word of his death very quickly. Before long, the entire world knew who Harambe was and what had happened to him. Memes help spread culture, strengthen friendship bonds and unite people from all over the world,” he passionately stated.
On the opposite end of the chain is Maxwell Tsao, another rising sophomore student at Troy. Although he is well-versed in the world of memes, he claims that the world is better off without them. “All they do is generate negativity,” he claimed. “It doesn’t matter who the meme panders to, because someone is going to oppose it, and going to start some kind of flame war in the comment section. A meme could mock liberals, and liberals would come over to defend their political viewpoint. It could be about vegans, and they would invade and call it offensive.”
He went on to profess his annoyance with the entire concept. “The entire concept of memes is built off making fun of something. Its funny to everyone else but the target, and all it does is create problems for everyone.”
Corey concedes that there are many faults to the idea of memes, saying that “sometimes, the community can be a cesspool of racism, sexism, hate and dark humor.” He also agrees that the idea of memes might not be for everyone, yet he still believes that memes help unite more than they divide.
Regardless of position, both agree that memes have their benefits and drawbacks and whichever end of the spectrum teens may stand, it remains true that memes will be around and a part of our popular media culture for the foreseeable future.