“Oh you’re writing an article about memes? … Please, tell me more about this ‘new trend.'”
A social media trend known as “memes” has been around for a while, but the popularity is spreading through Facebook pages of college students around the country.
Ohio State is no exception, as there is a recent Facebook page that participates in this fad.
Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, first coined the term “meme” in 1976. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines is as “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”
The memes that are being shared through the social networking site encompass a photo, usually one of a well-known pop culture icon, and a clever phrase to accompany it.
Sarah Storer is the senior content marketing strategist for The Karcher Group, a social media management company based in North Canton, Ohio. She said she believes the simple form of this sensation contributes to such high interest in creating memes.
“Part of what makes memes so popular is that they are usually entertaining and easy to replicate,” Storer said. “It’s like we ask ourselves, ‘How am I going to see this again, but differently?’ And in some ways, young adults identify with it more because they’re willing to take more risks to take the imitation and replication to the next level of funny or extreme.”
Roughly three weeks ago, students of schools such as Columbia University, Duke University, New York University, University of Michigan and University of California, Los Angeles all began creating and sharing memes specifically designed for university peers.
Storer said the craze has captured the attention of this particular audience because it’s a way to identify with the culture of its campus
“Memes on college and university campuses are about identity and connection. They’re easy ways for people who may not know each other, but identify with the culture they’re in and that culture’s many idiosyncrasies, to connect,” Storer said.
With 8,564 ‘likes’ on Facebook, the OSU page features memes of characters such as Willy Wonka, Harry Potter and Simba from “The Lion King,” with topics ranging from the Michigan rivalry to on-campus dining.
Memes can be created from templates like the Socially Awkward Penguin, the Annoying Facebook Girl, the Philosoraptor, Scumbag Steve, the College Freshman and the Lazy College Senior.
The information on the Facebook page gives specific instructions to students wishing to participate in the phenomenon, stating “the meme must not just be college related but specific to the workings, ideas and physical surroundings of Ohio State.”
Hannah Brokenshire, a second-year in French, said she first discovered the page when a roommate created her own meme and regularly checks it on her own for amusement.
She said she believes the success of the recent fad could be due to a common bond between the students.
“They’re probably so popular because people like to see that they have the same kind of experiences as everyone else. So if something is funny that happens to you all of the time or if it’s something that annoys you like a pet peeve, I think it’s funny to see that in a form that everyone kind of recognizes especially because a lot of them are really true,” Brokenshire said.
Ricardo Renta, a third-year in computer and information science, also said he thought the spread of the memes could be attributed to their OSU-specific theme.
“So many people can relate to it because we’re all on the same campus. I know other universities have the same thing,” Renta said.
The Lantern was unable to identify and contact the creator(s) of the OSU meme Facebook page.