The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday January 20th

Viewpoints: Take your memes and get off my lawn

The idea for Viewpoints today came about during a recent editorial board meeting, when reference was made to the UNC Facebook meme page. Everyone present was shocked to learn I wasn’t a member. That shock only grew when I revealed I’d been added to the group three times and removed myself every time.

“Why would you do something like this?” I was asked. “Why do you hate fun?”

I wasn’t able to provide a satisfactory response to my fellow board members in the limited time we had but thought perhaps I’d be able to outline my stance better in a column.

Memes are everywhere. Brands use them to promote products, internet trolls use them to stir up trouble and politicians use them in desperate attempts to seem hip. There are countless social media accounts, Facebook groups and websites dedicated to them. You can't go anywhere online without seeing a meme. Except Google Plus, of course. People have to actually use a website to put memes on it. 

The dedication many meme fans have to creating, viewing and disseminating memes has always struck me as odd. One of my favorite sayings is the classic, “moderation in all things.” Who it originated from is unclear, but the idea behind it has been around since at least the ancient Greeks. It means, more or less, that too much of anything is bad for you. This applies to all things in life. Food is fantastic, but overeating leads to obesity. Exercise helps keep you in shape, but overdo it and you can get injured. And memes may be fun, but the obsessive culture that now surrounds them is, well, a little much.

There is something inherently unhealthy about excess, even when the excess in question deals with something seemingly unimportant as humorous, viral photos. There is nothing wrong with the memes themselves, or even enjoying them, but the attitude many meme fans have with their chosen fixation borders on bizarre.

One side effect of this obsession is common in many corners of pop culture. "Stranger Things," "Friends," Beyoncé, Marvel movies and so many other items in our culture have intense fandoms that assert disagreement is simply wrong. 

It is not enough that they think what they like is good; you must think so, too. 

We saw this play out not too long ago when the actor Ethan Hawke dared to say superhero movies are fine but not great works of art. Fanboys everywhere lost their minds, and the internet was flooded with articles about his comment.

Perhaps I simply have a contrarian nature — I also still insist on using the Oxford comma despite three years of journalism classes now — but the more people tell me I should like something, the more they push and press, the less likely I am to want to take part in it. 

I removed myself from the meme page the first time because I didn’t want my Facebook flooded with posts from people I don’t know. The second and third times, I removed myself more out of annoyance of being re-added.

My stance boils down to this: I don’t like memes because I don’t want to like them, because people keep telling me I'm wrong not to like them and because too many people like them too much. 

Despite a few attempts at editing and re-writing this article, I can’t seem to lose the crotchety-old-man vibe I’ve got going on. So I've decided to just own it. 

Take your memes and get off my d***n lawn!

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