Meme culture firmly integrated in society

Enrique Bonilla

Memes need no introduction. A short walk in between classes can reveal how excited students are to talk about memes.

“I have an entire folder of memes saved on my phone,” said sophomore Miranda Perez.

“I was literally just about to save a meme off Twitter,” psychology sophomore Bronwyn Hartwig said,  showing how infectious meme culture is.

Escaping memes would involve smashing anything with a screen and hiding under a rock.

For those of you not on social media, a meme is a photo, quote or video that contains a joke, metaphor, relatable circumstance or ideology. Meme culture has grown significantly since the early 2000s, and memes now spread like wildfire across screens all over the world.

These memes are extremely fluid, evolving through each person that comes into contact with them. Memes are even seen as important tools in online marketing as they can increase in popularity as users share them, effectively reaching millions of people in short periods of time. This is largely due to the fact that memes are easy to share: Right click. Save. Copy. Paste. Send. Share. Post.

Memes are shaping popular culture and making contemporary culture a source of entertainment that is portable, free and accessible to anyone with Internet connection. This phenomenon is visible through this year’s popular class of memes: Harambe memes, Ken Bone memes and Trump/Clinton memes. Almost overnight situations that were serious or people that were nobodies are turned into common comedy with little effort.

Memes are tiny nuggets of our culture–some already made, and some waiting to be tapped into like a ball of stored energy. UTSA has its own culture that our students embody, and within that culture lies UTSA Memes, a community Facebook page created by anonymous UTSA students that felt “there was a severe lack of university/college culture amongst the student body, especially online. [They] felt that memes were a really great way to help boost student pride, involvement, as well as just give students a much needed laugh now and again. There’s just something nice about seeing a ‘viral’ post and then seeing your university’s name represented somewhere.”

Like many other meme pages, this page generates content through user input. That one professor everyone has a hard time with?  The limited parking situation at main campus you deal with daily? The towing problem caused by the limited parking situation? There’s probably a meme for it here.

Why are we so drawn to memes? They describe in a photos and a few words parts of our shared human experience. Hence why you send your best friend that meme that reminds you of them when it perfectly finds its way onto your timeline.

Similarly, memes can be used to create out-groups or make certain behavior seem “other.” Memes join us together and pull us apart, as strange as it may sound.

The double-edged sword of Internet culture swings constantly in every direction, there is no escape. Memes are constantly evolving with our society growing their own culture. Meme culture is still in its infancy, but it is already one of the most powerful trends in communication in the digital age.