From Weird Facebook to Public Opinion: It’s Dat Meme

by Nikki Vergakes, Chapter President

In the United States of America, some pride ourselves in living in a Democracy, however, some are now wondering, are we actually living in a memeocracy? What’s a memeocracy and how is it valid? There are rumblings among scholars and everyday people whether our society is being controlled by memes.

You may not realize it, but 75% percent of the content you scroll past on Facebook are memes. The other 25% can be taken up by family photos, rants, and tasty videos. Even ATTN video and NowThis election pictures and videos can be lightly considered memes. If you argue not, it is definitely a piece of social media that is affecting public opinion. This constant flow of politically-pointed memes are attacking our subconscious. Do you ever just stop and think why any American working full-time is living in poverty? Thanks to this meme, you just might.

pepe

this is Pepe, a popular meme of a frog who originated from a comic, featuring the meme of the hour: “dat boi”. He’s another meme of a frog, however he has no known origin and huge popularity. Photo courtesy of the Daily Dot.

In March, Vice put out an article where meme experts predicted the outcome of the 2016 election solely on memes. They said that based on meme presence alone, Bernie Sanders takes the cake. Meme connoisseur and SSU PRSSA chapter member Kyle Talbot go as far to say that memes are creating the presidential election.  That is because his millennial-based following are more apt to state their political opinions through memes. Most political themed memes come from a Facebook group called “Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash.”

bernie

This Facebook group actually originated as a fringe, or “weird” group that got so popular that it became mass consumption material… 500K followers of mass consumption. Back up… what is this “weird Facebook” I speak of? Weird Facebook is the rebirth of Facebook for the millennials. It is an underlying, not-so-well-kept secret of Facebook. It caters to a subculture of meme-loving social justice warriors and societal outliers.

guy

Have you ever seen something like this come across your Facebook newsfeed? A picture of this sorts has swam up from the dark abyss of weird Facebook to the mainstream newsfeed (unless you’re a member of this subculture). My impression of weird Facebook so far has two facets: Facebook “like” pages such as “Freddy Yolo,” and “Full House Memes 2”. These pages are full of seemingly nonsensical memes that sometimes target a specific video game, cultural reference, social construct or political movement. Admins of these pages can be described as “a neurotic, borderline depressed individual”, the admin of “Shit Memes” told the Daily Dot.

They post content and begin to gain a substantial following. Then delete the page once it gets too [sic] many likes and the page is ‘ruined’ by the types of people who find out about it.

The second part of weird Facebook that I have been exposed to are Facebook groups for likeminded individuals to share content. However, they work simultaneously with these meme pages. “Weird Facebook pages and weird Facebook groups exist simultaneously in the same sphere while being two completely different entities that have a sort of symbiotic relationship,” Talbot tells me. He has seen similar content posted on both channels, however, they exist independently. “Their medium is the message,” Talbot claims.

dog

Your newsfeed’s gift from the world of weird Facebook. photo courtesy of the Daily Dot.

Why do we all think that cute, fluffy dog with bad grammar is funny? There is no answer. It’s funny just because it is. That is the definition of a “fiat meme” – a meme funny because it just is.

This definition may help us trace the untraceable meme-eology of the frog on a unicycle that has recently broken the internet – “dat boi.”

frog

This meme is neither traceable from a comic like Pepe, nor can it be tied to a social justice activity or political revolution. It’s a frog on a unicycle. The Daily Dot ponders if dat boy just reminds us of pure good. It’s like seeing an old friend. What is something you say when you see an old friend? “O shit waddup!”

oh ya

The fanfare is getting pretty intense

we dem bois

 

This frog was on the Tumblr-sphere in 2015, about a year before it invaded the Twitterverse. According to Talbot this meme showed up on the page “Fresh Memes About the Mojave Desert and Other Delectable Cuisines” in April and blew up on Facebook immediately. “There is no sense to be found in dat boi. It is almost reminiscent of Dadaistic art in that there is no meaning to be found and that is the entire, hilarious point,” says Talbot.

we dem bois2

I saw the frog on Facebook, however it’s not hard to find a place for this low-res frog on a unicycle to fit in. The only pop culture phenomena we can relate this meme to is the song “We Dem Boyz”. That doesn’t explain the unicycle, frog or the “o shit waddup!’”. We all immediately process the joke, however.

If you’re trying to make sense of this charming frog or anything you come across from weird Facebook – keep this in mind. If it doesn’t appear to make sense, it’s not meant to. It may not seem as it, but everything is done deliberately even in the warped world of weird Facebook. Talbot says, “I feel as though memes can one hundred percent have an influence on public opinion when wielded in such a manner, but they have to be politically aligned. You can’t just post a ‘dat boi’ meme and have it be inherently political, you have to craft your memes to your own purpose but they undoubtedly can be political.”

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