Meme’s the Word: Facebook craze plays on student life

A four-letter word became the newest online craze to sweep college campuses across the nation in recent weeks. The word is “meme” and chances are every DePaul student on Facebook has seen one today and will see some more tomorrow.

But what exactly is a meme? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a meme as “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” On the Internet, memes take the form of simple pictures that go viral. The picture could be of a particular person or an animal – it really doesn’t matter, so long as people can identify a certain cultural quality that the picture personifies.

DePaul, too, has become infected by the meme craze. A few weeks ago, a Facebook page entitled “DePaul Memes” gathered a following. Students began posting memes that relate to all the positives and negatives of being a student at DePaul. The page has a few thousand followers, as well as dozens and dozens of student-created memes.

“Some of them are really funny, make sense and have original meanings,” said sophomore Kevin Vargas, who joined in on the craze by posting a few memes of his own on the page.

“I think they’re pretty funny. They have some truth to them, too,” said junior Adil-Hussain Ashiqali.

Memes come in all shapes and sizes. For example, the meme titled “Scumbag Steve” is a photo of a guy who appears like he is ready to go out to a party. Someone decided the picture looked like someone you wouldn’t want to hang out with, and the picture went viral and turned into a phenomenon. Now people use the “Scumbag Steve” meme to give a face to the guys who make their nights on the town a little less enjoyable.

From the “Scumbag Steve” meme to the “Most Interesting Man in the World” meme, students are now finding ways to express their opinions in more creative ways. Still, some of the more Internet-savvy students who peruse well known meme sites like seem to think that DePaul’s memes lack in the humor department.

“The DePaul memes are funny because you’re part of the community, but some of them are just used poorly and don’t make much sense,” said junior Michael Michalak.

An older generation might agree with Michalak. It may look like an elementary form of humor or just a way to pass the time and get some cheap laughs.

Some students view it differently, though. Freshman Alex Matheson has posted a few memes on the Facebook page and said memes are more than just a silly trend.

“I believe the meme craze speaks about the ever growing social media phenomenon. We’re increasingly connected, and so it’s not surprising that memes have become such a mainstream way of connecting with others online,” he said.