Class Year

2021

Access Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Media Studies Program

First Advisor

Alex Kupfer

Abstract

The topic of memes and the ethnographies they create are discussed. Memes that have been created and adopted by alt-right communities, specifically incels, illustrate their ideologies while simultaneously validating their views and recruiting insecure, vulnerable populations. Memes from times past evolve to be viewed as cringeworthy as they fail the test of time and cultural expectations for humor. Content that exists out of the confines of normality in an embarrassing way also becomes constituted as cringe, and can become a meme in this way. New social media platforms allow for novel meme formats to emerge. Furthermore, the concept of new meme formats are explained through TikTok case studies, highlighting the platform’s unique and novel features. Finally, the ethnography that surrounds mental health memes is explored through content analyses of memes discussing mental illnesses like Bipolar Disorder, as well as memes depicting mindful practices. The possibility for trends arising from memes to romanticize negative attributes of mental illness illustrates the potential for negative consequences, like triggering a relapse in self-harm. Memes and their real-world consequences must be discussed as social media pervades daily life.

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