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The Daily Tar Heel

Viewpoints: Memes Connect Carolina

This time last year, I was caught up in the whirlwind of the college application process. I was inundated with the idealized perspective on college life that admissions officers want prospective students and parents to see. Each brochure, website and information session was the same. Instead of these surface level depictions, what helped me discover the authentic student experience at each school I applied to was their unique meme pages.

Yes, memes were an integral part of my college research process. 

Each page, mostly on Facebook, was an insight into student life and culture at the university. After deciding I would attend UNC in March, I eagerly joined UNC Memes for Roy Loving Teens—the name of the meme page at the time. Currently, the UNC meme page goes by UNC Memes for Arachnophobic Teens in light of the new “Crouching Spider” statue placed outside New West Building. 

As an incoming student, seeing members of the Carolina community post lighthearted jokes and pictures about their daily struggles and experiences made me feel connected to the University. Before I set foot on campus, I already knew about the construction in the Pit, how dangerous the bricks around campus can be and the wonders of a late-night ride on the P2P. It was exciting getting to know that I would soon be able to fully understand the stories behind each meme.

Besides acting as a benefit to incoming students, the page is an avenue for students to express themselves and their feelings as reactions to happenings around campus. The UNC meme page has shed light on hard-hitting issues, like the ones surrounding Silent Sam, as well as simple expressions of daily life on campus. Each post garners several likes, reacts and comments. The meme page is a unique and fun way to facilitate dialogue and communication among its more than 10,000 members.  

Although some say meme pages are a distraction and take away from “real” conversation, I believe they represent a new form of communication. Memes are easy to make and easy to interpret. While some memes may verge into offensive territory, moderators on the page can control content. Still, one doesn’t have to be an expert to share their opinion. Some can use memes as a platform to create content that is relevant to them and their communities. All they need is a photo and some text. 

Each day, I am excited to see new content on UNC Memes for Arachnophobic Teens. It always brightens my day, but also reminds me that I am part of the Carolina community. The many members and I share this campus and all that goes on here. The last 10 days have been an eventful time to start my career at Carolina, but seeing the meme page makes me hopeful. 

I see that students here are aware, creative and eager to take part in conversation.

As I continue my years at Carolina, I hope to contribute to that conversation and dabble in meme creation myself.

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