On March 11, when students were officially notified that the rest of the semester would be conducted online because of COVID-19, a metaphorical bomb went off in the UR community. As news spread, students flocked to Facebook and began to react to the upsetting news on various student meme pages, predominantly Ever Better Memes for Meliora Teens.
This meme renaissance, which took shape in hundreds of student-created images, is still ongoing, as new posts are being churned out every day.
This isn’t a unique phenomenon, as UR meme pages have been used as a platform for discourse regarding a multitude of controversial issues, like the Tibet-China controversy and the “Hands Up” photo incident. However, the universality of the COVID-19 incident and the sheer volume of posts distinguishes this phase from these previous ones.
A multitude of universal issues sparked by COVID-19 have been expressed by students through memes. Many students posted memes expressing their anxiety about having to spend the rest of the semester in their homes, and others poked fun at the video conference service Zoom, and how ridiculous the reality of remote college lectures will be. First-years lamented how their first spring semester would finish off in front of a computer screen, and seniors expressed their disappointment finishing college on such an anti-climactic note.
Memes also took more aggravated forms, as students articulated their frustration at administration for not immediately offering refunds for housing, or shuffling their feet in regards to how students would be compensated for their remaining declining dollars and swipes. Some memes were also purely informational, notifying students of important news so they could more easily navigate these complicated times.
Even though the COVID-19 incident has separated the student body physically, the spirit of the UR community is still alive and whole across UR’s meme pages. In light of difficult and unexpected circumstances, the pages have become a platform for student discourse, venting, and expression. Even though our community is spread across thousands of miles, the collective consciousness of UR’s student body is only a few clicks away.