The Uniting Power of the Meme

Haley Friefeld, Maroon-News Staff

Memes constitute a large presence across social media platforms. They are lighthearted, often humorous additions to our days as we scroll through our Facebook feeds on our way to class. However, maybe they are more intricate than that. Perhaps memes could actually create a dynamic change in how we connect our societies and communities across the globe.

How could something so simple serve as such a complex force at the same time? Perhaps memes help alleviate the misconception that self-expression must be unleashed in a serious and intimidating settings, while still validating the importance of the feelings that come with it.

Memes often provide the comedic relief necessary to assuage the gravity of many situations, which too often cause people to develop a reluctance to reach out for help. As a result, memes remove some of this debilitating reluctance and replace it with a sense of comfort. Memes break down the walls behind which hidden emotions live. With this, people find themselves connecting with others who can sympathize with them. They then see the extent to which they are not alone.

By tagging each other in memes, local and global communities become connected with just a few words and an image. If you tag your friend in a meme you relate to, another Facebook friend of yours will see it on their feed, relate to it, and then tag their friend in it. This chain exemplifies the widespread connections that memes have the potential to create. Memes could be the open door many have long been searching for, the words that people have been unable to find and the pathway to understanding themselves and those around them.

Of course, memes do not always have some type of underlying, deep rooted emotions. In fact, they regularly just provoke a giggle. However, the fact that memes have multiple effects provides evidence to the inclusivity and acceptance that they can foster. There have been memes created that address mental health, politics, relationship dynamics, dilemmas in the working field and many other fields of information that people continually struggle to verbally reconcile.

Memes have become the honest conversation that our society seems to struggle to have—conversations that we need to have that have been often unsuccessful, and that we need to strive to continue having. The words and images we view on the screen make absolutely no noise; we do not hear anybody passionately delivering what they believe in, or crying out of despair for their exhausting emotions, but their messages are not quiet.

In the world in which we live, we are presented with a variety of cultures, races, genders, religions, traditions and communal boundaries. But we can now utilize memes—just a simple medley of words and clever images—to become closer than ever before, and to realize that maybe we aren’t so different after all.

Contact Haley Friefeld at [email protected].