Y we no live without memes?

Admit it. You’ve seen that triumphant toddler, perplexed T-Rex and angry stick figure with a million different captions in the last few weeks. You may have even made and posted some. Or liked and shared a few. At the very least, you laughed out loud looking at one.

Thanks to social networking sites and blogs like Facebook and Tumblr, the average college student can easily view hundreds of memes online via computers and smartphones anytime, anywhere. Some are even tailored to appeal to specific target audiences such as people with a certain job or the students at a certain school.

Memes, as SUNY Institute of Technology professor Ibrahim Yucel defines, are “remixes of information” shared within a community. Yucel, a recent Penn State IST doctoral graduate, says that the popularity of LOL Cats paved the path for the now-infamous picture-with-a-caption format many netizens know and love. The Penn State Memes Facebook page is no doubt a heaven-on-the-Web for those who enjoy sharing their own hilarious creations.

Rachel Harvey, a freshman English major and co-founder of the Penn State Memes page, says she is delighted to open her inbox to clever fan-made memes every day. The PSM Facebook page has hit over 17,250 “likes” in just three weeks and the number is still skyrocketing. Harvey says she and her friends were first inspired by the Temple University memes.

The PSM page is a place to “laugh about the stupid things that happen here that no one else can really get,” she says. “If you didn’t go here, you didn’t know what West was.”

The motivation behind this massive meme craze is simple: People want to feel connected and included in their communities. And how can they relate? With good inside jokes.

Photo by Nina Abbott

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