College Memes Mania Continues: Check Out My PBS MediaShift Rundown

An article of mine focused on the recent college memes mania has just gone up on PBS MediaShift.  It includes mentions of The Daily Illini, The Daily Free Press, The Daily Emerald, The Huntington News, The Hook Up, The Cherwell, The Triangle, NYU Local, and The Daily Universe.  Here’s the start of the article below, in hopes of enticing you to click and read the rest.

College memes are suddenly invading the Facebook streams of students at schools throughout the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe. As The Cherwell, Oxford University’s student newspaper, explains, the meme is “an idea or behavior that spreads through a culture by imitation. Internet memes follow this principle, humorous images are copied and re-captioned, concisely describing or satirizing the activity of an individual or group.”

Building on its burgeoning popularity in recent years on sites such as Reddit and 4chan and via viral creations like LOLcats and Rickrolling, the Internet meme has been rapidly and rabidly adopted by undergraduates since the start of last week.

A rash of student media reports and social media chatter confirm that undergraduates’ online experiences are now hovering between “meme madness” and full-blown “meme mania.” Last Friday, Syracuse University sophomore Bob O’Brien tweeted, “The ‘College Meme Page’ frenzy is unlike anything I can remember on Facebook. Seems every school is discovering it at once.”

In a recent post, the University of Iowa online student outlet The Hook Up similarly stated, “It’s not often that such a phenomenon takes off running with such fury and so little impetus … Students are now meme-ing like they’ve never memed before.”

Specifically, students are racing to start meme-focused Facebook pages for their schools before someone else claims them. The pages are generally not affiliated with student media or other recognized campus groups. Instead, they are the efforts of individual students or small groups of friends who have no ambition other than sharing a laugh and getting their peers’ attention.

Memes, Y U So Addicting?!

Early last week, in a story headline that mimics a popular meme conceit, The Daily Illini asked, “Memes, Y U So Addicting?!”

Dozens of campus newspaper articles indicate student readers enjoy the ease with which they can scroll-and-scan others’ memes and quickly create their own. They are also fond of the incredibly high levels of interaction the Facebook pages foster. As one of the founders of a Northeastern University memes page told The Huntington News, “[T]here have been people posting on it pretty much non-stop, like all night … I was actually kind of afraid to leave my computer for five minutes. I came back and there were like 300 new likes.”

Students especially like the sarcastic references about campus rivalries, bad cafeteria food, and crappy parking that only their schools’ students, staff and alumni can fully appreciate. To that end, a University of Minnesota journalism professor calls the memes exercise “one big inside joke.”

Yet, the college memes generated so far also touch on many rites of passage universal to undergraduate life, including crazy classes, registration woes, partying, drinking, road trips, residence hall habits (Example: “I don’t always use the dorm bathrooms, but when I do, I leave the seat down and piss all over it.”), and the ginormous cost of higher education (one repeatedly shared example below).

To read more, please click here or on the screenshot below.

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