Ever since the millennials took control of the internet, there has been a boom of images and posts that have transformed the definition of humor for us, one that requires first-hand experience, exaggeration to India TV’s level, and a sense of humor that binds all the viewers together under the umbrella of hopelessness, with a pinch of being politically right (or not – #triggered). Memes have become the way the young literate population of the world connect under one emotion – laugh it out, kiddo. Memes are usually template photos with bold captions, or a screenshot of a tweet, or a tumblr thread, or just funny photos and videos.
The meme culture has slowly made its way into our daily lives – whether it is on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram. For the young Indians, Facebook is the primary source of meme-entertainment. What earlier used to be a platform to write cringy comments like “nice pic” and “tnx 4 da likes”, is now slowly changing into a comment section filled with tags of people and their loved ones with captions smaller than their own names such as “ye tu hai”. Tagging in memes has now become a new form of intimacy, clouded by the emotional thought that it reminded you of your friend.
It would not be fair on my side to not mention Rajnikanth vs CID Jokes page, because that’s where it started in India (it does have 13.7 million likes now). Fortunately, with the coming of Indian pages such as Viral Indian, The Sarcastic Indian, AIB, Buzzfeed India, things have evolved for the better, maybe. They all run on desi viral sensations (even if it from the other side of the border) – Ye Bik Gayi Hai Gormint, Ishant Sharma’s “Hain?” or our very own Baba Ramdev. Desis have given memes a new home, one where spicy is always on the menu.
Student Problems is one of the most recognizable meme pages that cater to the student audience (just as the name suggests). The daily problems of being a student, whether it is completing an assignment under a deadline, finding the will to study, or just trying to cope with the burdens of life, this page reassures the Indian students that these are problems are universal, hence enforcing the idea of an integrated world where the struggles are real and relatable for every student regardless of your University. Memes have thus become a so-called coping mechanism for students all around the world who laugh through their misery, and cry through the joy.Colleges have even started embracing the meme-revolution by creating online events for memesters (such as Lady Shri Ram College’s – MemeSaheb online competition during Tarang), social commentary on issues that directly affect students albeit through passive-aggressive and mildly amusing memes. Since memes require context to understand, students make the effort of finding the origin, thus actually sensitizing themselves with the issue.
The notion of freedom of expression runs quite high on the internet being a democratic platform, because of which meme pages are one place one where everyone is welcome and not welcome at the same time. While some pages might be against bigotry, sexism, another page will be all about it (especially labelled as dank memes where “snowflakes” are not invited). Most meme pages laude at their exclusivity, because god forbid they become too mainstream, for which they’re ready to go to any extent, even if it hurts anybody’s sentiment.
From Mad Mughal Memes to Bollywood Existential Crisis Memes, there’s always something for someone, because internet is that one magical land where nobody is alone. Trust me, if you think the content you like is weird, there are thousands out there who follow the same religiously. So, the next time you hit that share button or tag your friend in a meme, remember that others can also see your conversation and might want to join in. Hey, the internet is a free place (or is it?).