At one point, messages were sent by pigeon from person to person. My grandparents are frequent users of snail mail, my parents tend to gravitate toward email, and my old babysitters were the beginning of the texting generation. Now, a new mode of communication has been introduced: the meme. Memes are not just the dictionary’s definition of “humorous images, videos, or pieces of text on the internet.” They are this generation’s newest method of communication.
First-year Stuart Callinan explained, “Memes are a good way to develop friendships. Freshman year, if you tag someone in a meme, you can become ‘meme buddies,’ and you can say ‘Hey, look, we’re friends now.’” Memes seem to be a strange way to develop a friendship if one is not familiar with them, but they certainly help spawn new relationships. Each meme is crafted around a different topic, so when you tag a new friend in a meme themed around a similar interest, you establish a commonality between you and your new friend. For instance, I have two new friends at CC who only tag me in cat memes, friends who I often do not see throughout my day, yet we are constantly communicating on Facebook through “meme-tagging.” Memes are the way in which we hold onto our friendship since we do not see each other daily.
Not only do memes aid in creating new relationships, but they also can also help sustain a relationship between two people who are not in close proximity to each other. Sophomore Melanie Mandell says, “Memes allow someone to know you are thinking of them.” Considering most college students have friends at other schools, memes allow for an easy way to communicate with those friends, since it can be difficult to coordinate a time to talk on the phone. Memes allow you to simply tell a friend you are thinking of them, and the recipient of the tag can reply when they happen to have a chance. Even more, memes are constantly circulating social media, so it is not difficult to find one that reminds you of someone you care about far away and send them your regards.
While memes hold some positive impacts, there are negative aspects in memes acting as a new form of communication as well. Sophomore Alexa Hoffeman said, “[Memes] are literally the only way my brother and I communicate.” Memes can act as a communication mode to further establish or maintain a relationship, yet it also proves as a barrier between two people trying to communicate with their own words. This is because people are now able to accomplish the same feeling through a simple tag as they did before with a short phone conversation.
Essentially, memes have created an entirely new mode of social interaction. No longer is technology simply a way to communicate through a screen using words, texting, or calling. Rather, memes serve the platform to allow you to interact using already constructed words and videos, another reason for why our generation seems to be getting more and more talented at avoiding human contact. For the future, I am curious how meme communication will progress and whether it is simply a fad or something that will continue to grow.