WEEK 11: Memes will Save Us

Growing up, I loved the video streaming platform Vine (RIP). Vine was witty and quick six-second videos. These videos started a generation of inside jokes and created a culture within itself. Tik Tok has the same, energized element for many users. The platform is exciting and hopeful. In these uncertain times, it is comforting to have a comedic escape.Tik Tok videos are quick hits of serotonin. These inside jokes are celebrated and encouraged by voices all over the world. Although social interaction is done by digital screens, we are all in this together.

From jokes about Tiger King to dance challenges, Tik Tok has become a much-needed entertainment and distraction. The app is not only helping people laugh but also cope. Not only is it an app, but a comedic relief in these scary times. Regardless of age and status, this app has been a light in these dark times. Just like Vine, Tik Tok has many different communities, allowing anyone to feel included. Even my mother is obsessed with the app! The ‘For you page’ is filled with videos tailored to the user. The video-sharing platform uses artificial intelligence to create a custom timeline. My FYP is filled with coronavirus related memes and videos.

I believe that as humans, we need social interaction to survive and grow. As someone who has mental health issues, these social distancing days have been difficult. I thrive in a social environment and get my energy from others. The world has been turned upside down. Something as simple and crucial as a classroom is now a video conference call. Our reality is unbelievably different from just two months ago. This blog post is inspired by week 11 and Geert Lovink’s work Sad by Design. Especially when one can not go outside to be social, it is crucial to keep in contact with others. Funny enough, I find myself being closer to my family and friends at this time. I even feel connected with strangers across the world! Memes give me hope and excitement for the future. 

Although the internet can be a place of fun and acceptance; it can also be a breeding ground for trolls. On the internet right now, there is a collection of fake news and false information when regarding the virus. The virus is an international enemy who is threatening and dangerous. It feels like everyone is in the same boat. This is a collective emotional response. This comic relief is an essential building block in these scary times. I  have also been considering the future of the internet after all of this. I wonder what will happen when we return to ‘normal’. How will person to person relationships develop and will there be a joyful return to IRL? Or will we become so incredibly comfortable with online spaces, we reject the real world entirely. With coronavirus, every day is unknown.

Tik Tok and memes can be used for light entertainment but is also a space for dark humour. There is something comforting about someone making a joke about their mental health during this time. It makes me feel less alone, and I wonder if this feeling is universal. Humour is needed in these times to keep sane and connected. It feels like the whole world is on pause and to interact with others, I have to look at my phone. It is interesting to consider because growing up, we were told to stay off our mobile devices and ‘go outside’. Due to the social distancing requirement, the outside is seen as unsafe and unpredictable. Memes are almost like a protective blanket protecting us from the news and scary thoughts. This time feels like purgatory. We all deal with our emotions differently. During this stressful time, it is vital to keep healthy, mentally and physically. Some people deal with this overwhelming stress by watching silly videos on their phones, and that is okay. Memes are helping us stay sane in the uncertainty and confusion of the new reality.

These are my favourite memes at the moment:

Gif created by Christina Gutierrez.

LINKS:

https://slate.com/technology/2018/09/tiktok-app-musically-guide.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/12/coronavirus-outbreak-tik-tok-memes

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