It is time we talk about memes and meme culture. I love a good meme, and I assume you do as well, or else you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading a column about memes. Internet memes have become a prevalent part of a Millennial and Generation Z’s daily life. You could even say they have become a sort of coping mechanism. Memes represent the pent-up frustrations and passions of this time in history. Millennials are generally known to be in a worse off economic situation than the generation before, having been handed the failures of our ancestors without sufficient education to craft a solution. Those of us pursuing a college degree have to deal with incredibly high tuition costs and possibly immense student loans. Millennials are characterized as the “anxious generation,” and Generation Z has been reported as naming depression and anxiety as the biggest problems facing their peers, according to The Economist. The only way out of the unearned strife that has defined the short run-time of the third millennia is a good meme. But when should we create or share a meme? When should we not? It must be noted one cannot always meme, but then again there are times when a meme is the most essential service one can provide. For guidance, we look to Shakespeare’s most famed work, “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” or Hamlet, for short.
To meme: Get your Reddit fingers ready because this section is all about when it’s appropriate to share a meme. There are numerous times when creating a meme is appropriate, necessary even, to alleviate stress or just to prompt a nice, hearty chuckle. These times include, but are not limited to, a silent Uber ride, a party with people you’ve never met before or, of course, when you should be studying for finals. As Shakespeare argues through his emo leading man, Hamlet, life is suffering and the only tether we have to it is the fear that death may be worse. In the 16th century, though, they didn’t have memes. Memes are cathartic – sucked out of the infinitely deep hole of pop culture and changing each week. Life is static, but memes aren’t. Whenever life gets you down a meme is the perfect pick-me-up.
Not To Meme: Unfortunately, a certain jovial nature attached to memes renders them, inert at best and in some cases egregiously offensive if issued in the wrong situations. And to the naysayers who insist such circumstances are delusions propagated by the mainstream, I will display a couple of these poor situations. Exhibit A: a breakup. Why would you show your devastated ex-boyfriend a meme after taking a bite out of his heart? It sounds wrong because it is. Exhibit B: a funeral. I’m not providing a zany example for this one. Just don’t do this. In Hamlet’s famous dialogue on how life doesn’t always seem worth living, he captures this struggle with indecision. Exercise restraint.
Most know Hamlet’s famous deliberation on suicide referred to throughout this article. “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Many don’t know, however, that it is answered. In Act 5, Scene 2, before Hamlet and Laertes sword fight, Hamlet solves the question by saying “Let be.” That is the answer I believe we should apply to meme timing. When it feels right, go for it, but don’t be rude about it. To meme or not to meme, that is the question. The answer: Let meme.
Kyle Cunningham is a UF English freshman. His column appears on Mondays.