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TEENS: Memes and humor of modern youths

What's up with memes?

Avery Plote
Avery Plote

How is it that teens can laugh at a random “deep fried” pictures but not even chuckle at things adults find hilarious? The answer to this is the meme culture of today’s youth. This culture can be hard to understand for adults, so, as someone who knows and enjoys memes, I’ll try to explain, “What’s up with memes?” and clarify a few things.

The first thing that is important to understand is that the memes of youth have many different formats. The image-based memes of “top text/bottom text” are now long gone for youths, and are regularly made fun of. It is always fascinating to me to see how the next formats will be made. Some meme formats are basically the same thing as previous ones, while others are completely different.

Memes can be about anything! Some, such as the “Trumpet Boy” meme, can be enjoyed by both adults and teens. However, many memes are made about things that adults wouldn’t get, just because they aren’t exposed to those things as much. Meme topics of this type could be YouTubers, video games, school and pop culture in some cases. Memes are also commonly made about politics and social issues as well, such as the “meme war” fighting against the FCC when it was announced they intended to revoke the “net neutrality” legislation.

Part of what makes memes so lucrative and fun for teens is that they are commonly about things that we experience or know. They are made by us, for us and spread by us. I think you’d probably be hard pressed to find someone over 25 on the meme app Ifunny.

What keeps memes spicy is that everyone doesn’t know what they are. If everyone knows what a meme means or is from, it’s like knowing the punchline to a joke before the joke is even told. It ruins all the fun. Memes die (aren’t circulated anymore) when everyone knows what it is. This effect is multiplied when they are spread by adults or put on the news — at this point they become downright cringy to youth.

As to why memes are funny ... that is hard to answer. The unexpected factor is a big one in memes, once again similar to the punchline in a joke. You don’t know what is coming, but you expect to be surprised in a humorous way. Others are less humorous, but still entertain whoever is reading or viewing it. This is the great part of memes: that there’s no format anyone has to follow to make new ones. Jokes and comics generally have the same setup and punchline routine, but memes can be set up in whatever way the creator likes, and can be about anything.

So, does this mean adults can’t enjoy memes? No! Memes can be enjoyed by youths and adults alike! But just like their choice in entertainment and other areas, their choice in memes is probably different. People will chose memes they enjoy and find funny, whatever those memes may be. This truly may be the “golden age” of memes; let’s enjoy them while we have them!

• AVERY PLOTE is a senior at Leland High School. To contact him, email Assistant Editor Julie Barichello at jbarichello@shawmedia.com.

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