Tag Archives: Meme

Facebook Senior Names

Background: 

My informant, AK, is a 19 year old student at the University of Michigan. She was born and raised in Southern California and is studying engineering. While in high school, AK was an active member and team captain of her school’s swim team. She attended the school from kindergarten until she graduated and knew the place inside and out. (I’ll be referring to myself as SW in the actual performance).

Performance: 

AK: For as long as I can remember, it’s been tradition at our high school to make a fake name on facebook for senior year. Everyone would make a pun based off their name, referencing a movie or celebrity. When it first started, it was to protect people’s identities, so that of prospective colleges looked up students on facebook, they wouldn’t find their page. By the time we were seniors, there wasn’t really a need to do this because it was general knowledge that colleges didn’t really care, but our grade kept on with the tradition anyways.

Thoughts:

It’s interesting to understand where some aspect of folklore comes from, and to see how its meaning has changed over time. What started as a superstition morphed into a tradition that stood to be a rite of passage. Kids as early as freshman year would begin to think about their senior name, anxious to be done with high school and on their way to college. Senior names were a way of expressing yourself, while also engaging in a unifying experience across the grade.

Press F

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese heritage. He is active in the gaming and computer science communities, and is very knowledgeable about memes and internet culture.  The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. 

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Wednesday afternoon. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. During the call and in between our discussions of different folklore items, we talked socially about how his finals were going. Thus, this conversation relatively casual. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call.

Main Piece: All right. Like, have you ever heard of people say like f in the chat or like Press F to pay respects.

Me: Oh yeah, that’s like pay respect right

Yeah, press have to pay respect, like that’s like from call of duty. But now, people just use it as a generic way to, like, say like oh I’m sad for you, like, That’s unlucky, whatever.

You do, you know, like how it started in Call of Duty, like how did that happen?

Someone posted like a picture and I don’t know, it was like a meme. So it started as like a picture someone posts that unlike other subreddit, or like some kind of forum. And people just kind of spread the image everywhere. It was like a while ago, but like, kind of like subtle asian traits (a popular Facebook group) y’know. 

Yeah, anyway, so, it was for Call fo Duty Advanced Warfare in that game. There was like a scene when you’re…when you’re playing on PC. Like you’re…you’re at a funeral, and you have to pay respects, so you press the F button that’s just what you do. 

And so like a youtuber actually he uploaded it. Like a video of the sequence about when you touch the like the casket to pay respects and then after that, like when the thing got posted. Conan O’Brien actually…He reviewed the game and criticize the gameplay especially like the Press F to pay respects part because it was like…O, it’s just such a stupid like a meaningless kind of action and then from then on, there were like videos like… so there were like videos called like intense respect playing.

And now…a lot of people just refer to, like, sad events or like if like you’re trying to empathize with someone. They just say F, like in the chat as much as specifically for like Twitch chat, I guess, but like a mutation on the meme.

Thoughts: I was at once really impressed and somewhat surprised about my informant’s knowledge of the meme and/or saying of Press F. My informant is generally the type of individual to be knowledgeable about these things, and the origin of this gaming folklore is relatively recent, so I cannot say I am totally surprised by his knowledge. Nevertheless, I think it’s fascinating how he plays the role of a folklorist as he analyzes and details how the saying and meme has evolved over time.

Garlic Coronavirus Meme

Context: The following is a meme from the informant, my maternal uncle. It was meant as a humorous reaction to the announcement of social distancing in reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Background: My uncle, being a surgeon, shared this meme that had been circulated by his fellow medical professionals.

Main piece: 

Analysis: This meme attempts to make light of a very serious situation and bring about some humor, especially because the medical workers who saw it were most likely very stressed and concerned due to the deteriorating situation. This was also likely a direct response to the announcement of social distancing and to keep six feet apart from others, proposing a lighthearted approach as to how one could ensure they would be following those rules.

Quarantine Meme: Hand Sanitizer

Main Piece:

Background: The informant and group of students in the chat respond and understand this piece because of its relevance. The young students feel a connection to the importance of hand sanitizer and also identify with the apple product AirPods. AirPods were an important new product circulating in 2019 which many students identify with. The meme pokes fun at the new best product of 2020 being hand sanitizer due to the coronavirus. 

Context: This meme circulated through a group of college students group chat in early April 2020. The students were all around 20 years old. 

Thoughts: This meme is interesting because it comments on the relevance of commercial products in folk culture. Social groups hold brand loyalty and identity with certain products and therefore those products are apart of their folk identity. In 2019 groups attached their identity to the new Apple AirPods. This brand loyalty is compared to the new identification with the hand sanitizer product due to Coronavirus. Now people everywhere identify with the hand sanitizer product and always have it by their side or attached to their belts. This commercially produced product has increased meaning to culture. 

Bottle Flipping – Find out if girls like you

Main text:

BR: At my old high school, we’d do this thing called bottle flipping…

MW: Oh yeah! We did that too. Was that just like a NorCal thing or…?

BR: I mean I don’t know, but we’d do it and kids would be flipping these dumb bottles everywhere and the goal was to flick a plastic bottle upwards and have it land on its bottom again. And they boys would be like, oh, if I flip it and it lands right it means she likes me…

MW: Oh, that’s interesting. I’ve never heard that version before…in my school we just did it to do it, you know? There’d be bottles, like, stuck in weird places because of it…

BR: haha. Yeah, all the band kids did it. It’s actually kinda funny because it’s actually kinda hard to get the bottle to land right, so it means, or like was implying, that girls weren’t liking guys back. Especially the band kids.

Background:

The informant, BR, was born and raised in the Bay Area, specifically El Cerrito (the East Bay). He remembers this tradition specifically because it was a fun bonding activity, and also a meme at the time. He looks back on this memory fondly. 

Context

This story was brought up in a FaceTime call. I asked the informant what traditions he remembered in high school, to see if we could cross compare since I went to high school not too far from where he did (San mateo).

Thoughts:

Upon further research, I believe that bottle flipping was done across America, maybe even more globally. It was perpetuated by the internet and made into one of the most popular memes of 2016. I think that BR’s school’s addition of having a girl like you back is really funny because it is so reminiscent of other children’s superstitious games. As we talked about in class, a lot of childrens’ superstition (especially girls’) revolves around who you will marry or relationships, etc. I think it’s just so fascinating that something as seemingly dumb as bottle flipping was able to work its way into that same pattern, probably just because it’s something the youth was doing. It’s also interesting to note that this phenomenon applied mostly to boys getting girls to like them back, as usually it’s a “girl’s game” that involves relationship fortune telling, as we talked about in class. 

(For an example of bottle flipping, please see this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp5QMSbf-a0

“Karen” as a folk term

Main Piece

Interviewer: What does “Karen” mean?

Informant: Karen is an internet slang word to describe a  very entitled, middle-class white woman. Or a boomer white woman. They are often blonde and they often have very short haircuts. They usually like to speak and the managers, and then proceed to yell at the entry-level employees who have no control over the matters. 

Interviewer:Where did you pick it up?

Informant: Maybe a year ago, scrolling through Twitter. 

Interviewer: do you use it frequently?

Informant: Yeah, especially when making jokes with friends or memes on the internet, haha.

Background

The informant is a good friend and housemate of mine, and is a junior at USC studying Computer Science and Computer Engineering. He is originally from Manhattan Beach, CA and has been coding ever since highschool. He has had several internships with different computer science companies such as Microsoft and is very involved with different coding clubs on campus. 

Context

The group of individuals at my house tend to send each other a lot of memes and use internet lingo throughout the house as different jokes. “Karen” is one that this informant uses very frequently, so during our interview I asked him to describe it in his own terms. 

Analysis

This term of folk speech is a perfect example of how internet lingo and culture has permeated into everyday verbal communication. Many of these terms are associated with humor and generational differences, as seen with this one which is intended to poke fun at individuals from an older population. This shows the rift in values and morals between generations, and displays how everyday names can be transformed to carry much more weight and meaning.

Google Doc meme

Context: 

This piece was collected in a casual setting on a FaceTime call. My informant is a USC Freshman and we are Animation Majors together. They grew up in Sacramento, California. They enjoy drawing, riding their scooter, and making memes. The following piece is a meme spin off they made of another popular meme “template”. The informant’s meme was intended for a specific audience, our Animation cohort, and it was sent in our class’s private group chat (fifteen USC Animation Freshmen). 

Main Piece:

Background: 

The informant created this meme by using the image of the train and adding words to it. Meme is basically saying the creator of the meme is getting a “free ride,” or leaching off,  of their classmates’ “google doc for the final” which we were all supposed to work on together (compile  notes from the class on it) but some people did more work than others. The meme is funny because the informant is basically confessing they did no work, but we can relate because we have all be there at some point.

Thoughts: 

Memes are a great way to make a quick joke that most people can be amused by because they feature funny pictures we can “connect” with, or a short amount of text that does this, and people can use their prior knowledge of other memes to find the meaning and get a giggle out of it. Since memes are so easy to understand and access, it makes sense that so many people make them, share them, or just look them up. Any group, no matter the size, can, and does, have its own folklore, and this specific meme is a perfect example of this since it took another more popular folk piece and switched it up to fit a new meaning ment specifically for the Animation student audience.

Corona Lisa Meme

Context: The following is a meme from the informant, my maternal uncle. It was meant as an attempt to be humorous while showing the drastic changes in life due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Background: My uncle, being a surgeon, shared this meme that had been circulated by his fellow medical professionals. Since they work in a hospital, the Coronavirus has had a very significant impact on their lives.

Main piece: 

Analysis: This meme attempts to present a jarring image with the famous Mona Lisa presented in a gas mask. Along with playing off of the similarities with ‘Mona’ rhyming with ‘Corona’, which combined with the ridiculous appearance of a mask covering half of the painting aims to invoke laughter, the meme could also be making a more serious attempt to show just how much impact this virus has really had on our normal lives, and the lengths to which we might have to go in order to combat it.

USC Folklore: The Legend of Nikolay

M: There was this running joke at USC about this weird dude named Nikolay. No one knew who he really was and no one had proof that he even existed. But this became the focus of a lot of USC jokes on twitter and on this app called Herd. People would post random pictures from memes and be like “meet Nikolay”. There was this one time when Fluor Tower flooded and people on Herd would say Nikolay is to blame. I can assure you this man does NOT exist but it’s just funny to refer to him during any situation. His entire existence is just a meme.

Above is an example of a student referencing Nikolay on Herd. Herd is an anonymous social media app that was designed specifically for college students to speak their minds on any topic they choose. Many USC memes either emerged from this app or made its way onto the platform via Twitter or Facebook. The existence of Nikolay has not been proven nor disproven by any means which makes it more of a USC legend. Nikolay has been a central focus in USC meme culture. Only those who indulge in USC meme culture would be familiar with him. This is a way for USC students to pull each other’s legs. It also says something about youth culture and their humor. It’s apparent that the funniest jokes are the ones that make no sense at all.

Keith Country Day School Student Body Meme

IMG_7081The following is the background of the meme account of Keith School and a description of a meme about the student body of Keith School from a conversation with NC. Attached is the respective meme.

 

Started in 2016, the seniors of Keith Country Day School created the @keithcountrymemeschool Instagram account. The purpose of the account was to mock and tease the faculty and school rules. Every year, one senior runs the account and takes into consideration the ideas of his/her peers. The memes are a collection of spin-offs of already well-known memes and original memes. Some of the memes even have faculty members’ faces photoshopped onto the picture. The account was made private, so as not to let faculty members see the page. Below is the description of a meme from the page, described by the senior from the class of 2018 who created it.

 

NC: This meme is a spin-off of the popular meme with a surprised boy gesturing and looking at a butterfly in the right-hand corner and a caption at the bottom asking a question. If you want to see other examples of this meme, you can look up “butterfly man meme” in a search engine. I did a spin-off of that meme by photoshopping Keith’s image on the boy’s face, photoshopping “54 people” on top of the butterfly, and making the bottom caption says, “Is this an student body?” Kids who follow the account find the meme funny because Keith School is an incredibly small school with a smaller student body than most, but it always boasts that it is constantly getting more of student body and getting bigger every year; it’s funny because that’s so untrue, haha. In reality, Keith is actually losing student body members, and has never been smaller than it is now.

 

My Interpretation:

It’s obvious that the students at Keith Country Day School have little respect for the school, making fun of enrollment numbers through this meme. It seems that Keith is trying to make an attempt to hide that they are struggling, not only with enrollment numbers but also financially as an effect of it. The students see the school struggling and can easily poke fun at the weakness of the institution, especially if they know they won’t be caught doing so with a private meme page.