EDITORIAL: Memes can unite Rutgers community
Internet trolls may actually have positive impact
If you use the internet, it is overwhelmingly likely that you have at some point encountered a meme. Memes have become an extremely common way for internet users to easily transfer information, most of the time with humorous undertones, to one another. The popularity of memes is somewhat of an enigma even to those who are familiar with them. The term meme was apparently first brought about in by Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins to describe a spread of cultural information. Meme derives from the Greek word mimema, which can be translated to something imitated. To most people who like memes, they are a quick source of entertainment. But when one looks more deeply into their nature, it looks as if memes can be more complex and influential than they seem on the surface.
If you are a student at Rutgers, it is likely that you have heard of the Facebook group, Rutger Colege Memes for RevolUtionary Teens. This page, as one may be able to guess from its name, is dedicated to memes about Rutgers. The page’s name itself, in some sense, emits a rather funny counterculture-type feel. The name is seemingly meant to troll the university and how seriously people take it. The term troll refers to people on the internet who, for fun, use memes and other forms of communication to spread discord and, at times, inflammatory and extraneous information. Any young person who uses the internet is likely used to internet trolls. Although internet trolls and their memes can be inflammatory, it is often not the case that they are undesirably inflammatory. This may sound odd, but there are arguably many good things that come out of trolls and their memes.
The good that can come out of memes is undoubtedly exemplified here at Rutgers. Members of "Rutger Colege Memes for RevolUtionary Teens" pump new content onto the page every day, all of which pertains to Rutgers. Examples of common meme subjects on the page include the Rutgers bus system, the geese on Busch campus, the annoyances experienced on webreg, light-hearted clashes between different schools and majors on campus and former Chancellor Debasish Dutta. The memes about all of these things bring up common concerns, interests and complaints that Rutgers students have. The sentiments expressed through these memes are shared by large numbers of Rutgers students, no matter their personal background. In that sense, Rutgers memes actually, in an important way, works to unite Rutgers students under a banner of humor. Considering how stressful college life can be, it is often relieving to see, through a relatable and understandable meme, that someone else might be going through the same troubles that you are.
Beyond Rutgers, memes are an extremely effective way for people to convey social commentary in a way that is not directly confrontational. In this day and age, it is easy to get heated about certain subject matter, such as politics, and fall into adversarial arguments. But memes are a great vehicle to point out things about modern culture while at the same time utilizing a relatable, easily understood and rather brief medium.
Since Rutgers’ meme page and other meme pages like it are full of humor and fun-poking, it is easy to overlook the real and actually deep benefits they can have on a culture. This is not intended to say that memes should be taken more seriously — they probably should not be, and that is the point. Instead of looking at the world through such a serious lens all the time, like one often has to do when they take college classes or work all day, memes show us that many things in life need not be as dreadful as they seem.
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