Occupation: Executive Director of an Educational Organization
Residence: Lincoln, MA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 18, 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish
Context: This meme was sent to me after we discussed the usage of Whatsapp in by Venezuelans to spread jokes, especially concerning the current Venezuelan humanitarian crisis and recent power outage that swept the nation in March 2019.
Exact Translation: What is the sensation of living in Venezuela? Something like this but without light.
Holistic Translation: What does it feel like to live in Venezuela? Something like this but without power.
Background: The informant is a middle aged Venezuelan woman who lives in Boston. She sent this meme via Whatsapp to me as a part of a meme chain. She initially received it from a family member who also sent it through Whatsapp.
Analysis:This meme is part of the new wave of folklore being spread through the Internet. In particular, Whatsapp, a communication app, has become a way for people to communicate globally without the restriction of being in different nations. Whatsapp usage is widely used by Venezuelans, and in recent years has become the mode of communication for families who have migrated due to the dictatorial regime. Whatsapp is not only used for regular communication, but also to share jokes and memes among the Venezuelan community. The informant stated that they receive new jokes or memes daily from family members and continue the pattern by sharing to more contacts.
This meme in particular is a great example of a Disaster Joke. This form of joke is used as a coping mechanism surrounding a traumatic disaster or situation in order to release stress or tension. This joke insinuates that living in Venezuela– which is currently dealing with massive food shortages, high crime rates, lack of medicine and massive power outages– is like being stuck on the edge of a cliff, which is bad enough, and then not having any power. This meme is humorous because of its extreme imagery relating to the already horrifying situation and then the addition of the power outage on top of the bad crisis, showing a form of ironic humor. It is remarkable that a community undergoing such horrific circumstances has the ability to deal with it in such a lighthearted way, most likely because it is the only true way to cope.