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Smile Like You Meme It

October 26, 2017

 

Kacie Kaufman

Managing Editor| kjk019@latech.edu

 

KAUFMAN

 

Free time. Something we often claim to have very little of, as college students. Yet, in reality, we have an excess of time on our hands. Think of the number of times you pick up your phone during the day to scroll through Facebook or Instagram and tag your friends and followers in photos or memes. It may count as a substantial portion of your day in totality, yet this sacrifice of time gives us the digital connection we now crave.

 

We have set a new standard for communication. We’ve progressed from basic T-9 texting emoticons to emojis to a combination of Bitmoji animations, GIFs and memes filling our inboxes and social media pages. We find relatable situations in the midst of our seemingly endless scrolls, and in turn, we continue to return to these sites to find new variations and content.

 

In particular, photos captioned with relatable quotes have found a way into daily communication. Instead of a simple message composed entirely of text, now we send each other memes to convey emotions and as part of responses. There are entire Facebook pages and other venues entirely devoted to the creation and sharing of these posts.

 

Memes may only be digital images, but they are having a profound impact on human interaction. Relationships can be strengthened through sharing, and tagging one friend in a meme (and not another) can foster jealousy. In fact, there are memes about the importance of including friends in memes. What keeps us coming back to exchanges such as these?

 

According to Mauricio Delgado, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University, many social media interactions produce a positive reaction in the brain, and this triggers a release of dopamine. According to him, this conditions people to return to these sites.

 

In essence, we are all truly just looking to belong. Finding a picture encapsulating a moment and the realization of, ‘Thank goodness, I thought I was the only who thought or did this,’ provides a sense of relief and gratification, and even fosters a sense of social belonging.

 

Take, for example, Grumpy Cat, a champion of millennial values. This cat is constantly dissatisfied and dislikes typical social situations. These photos have morphed into a widely shared internet phenomenon.

 

Memes give us an idea of what it is to be human, often through non-human personification. There is a meme for almost every mood or situation, depending on whether you feel like being a Grumpy Cat person, or if you’re feeling more like a Buddy the Elf. They give us a way to show our emotions with no physical action and provide an outlet of sorts.

 

While this connection can provide positive benefits, it can take up significant time, and it is necessary to be aware of this. Please scroll responsibly, and be a meme queen (or king).

 

Kacie Kaufman is a senior communications major from Loveland, Colorado.

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