Are Memes Controlling Your Mind?

Are Memes Controlling Your Mind?

They have more influence over your thoughts and your actions than you might realize.
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Our culture today is confusing yet intricate. Internet memes are an interesting idea all on their own— everybody around the world collectively decides that something is a joke, and it becomes a joke. The reasoning behind it? Seemingly little. Predictability? Not high. Yet eventually, everybody finds it humorous. And finally, the joke gets woven into people's speech, giving it a new level of funniness— now it has personal, real-life relevancy. The funny post has become a meme and is now ingrained in our culture.

This is all well and good when we're talking about funny dogs or song lyrics, but what happens when memes get a bit more serious and are more than just a joke, impacting a lot more of our culture than just our language?

A recent influx of memes has made passive suicidal thoughts (not actively seeking to kill oneself yet still being willing to throw oneself into danger to die) into a bit of a joke— people make jokes about wanting to die, asking others to kill them and trying to do so themselves. Most of the people making these jokes don't understand the actual feelings that would lead one to believe these things, but the fact that suicide is now a meme that leads other people to laugh at expression of feelings that might actually be serious will certainly have a bad impact on our culture into the future.

Yet the most prevalent, annoying example of these "bad memes" is the idea of pettiness being funny, quirky and celebrated overall. And perhaps this is even more culturally significant because the impact comes not just from the joke's existence but from the fact that everybody encourages the meme's "petty perpetrator" on. Originally these were jokes at oneself, laughing at how ridiculous and extreme their own behavior was. Now? People are genuinely finding it funny and seeing pettiness as a desirable trait.

It's not. It is frustrating to deal with somebody who is naturally petty and is making a big deal out of nothing and refusing to compromise, but it is exponentially more annoying to deal with somebody who is laughing and proud of themselves for being that way. You're not going to talk to me for a week because I refused to buy you Chick-Fil-A? Why do you think this is funny?!

Pettiness is not and should not be viewed as a positive trait. It's stubborn and uncompromising and immature, and it was never meant to be a good thing to have. The original jokes were laughing at themselves for being so ridiculous that it was comical—"haha guys, don't be like me! But since I AM like this, let's laugh!"—not as a model for future behavior.

But even more concerning and much more relevant, cultural jokes and idiosyncrasies should not change an entire generation's behavior the way that these jokes have. While this current trend is just making disagreements more annoying, the idea of cultural control in this way is kind of terrifying—making suicide into a joke is today's issue, but even worse, if a very targeted type of joke really took off, who's to say that an entire culture's ideology towards the targeted group would not change?

Jokes are fine when they are just that—jokes. But once they pervade all areas of culture—clothes, music and television, beyond the music and social media jokes that are widespread—they have a very strong impact on more than merely our sense of humor. Just because something is "funny" does not mean it needs to be adopted as a character trait, especially something that has been viewed as negative for a very long time.

Cover Image Credit: Jeffrey Arno

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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12 Unhealthy College Habits That Never Should Have Become Normalized

No, you shouldn't have to pull an all-nighter to pass every exam.

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College is a weird time in our lives, but it doesn't have to be bad for our health. Here are some trends I've seen on social media and watched my friends practice that really never should have become a "thing" for college students in the first place.

1. The "freshman 15."

Everyone has heard of the dreaded "freshman 15," where college freshmen gain 15 pounds because of access to all-you-can-eat dining halls. Rather than eating healthier options at the dining halls or, you know, only eating until you're full and not stuffing yourself, we've just accepted our fate to gain what's really a large amount of weight. Not a very healthy mindset.

2. Eating only junk food because we're "too poor" to buy real food.

For off-campus students, the theme is ramen and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. This is really not how it needs to be. You can buy a bunch of romaine lettuce for around $1 at the grocery store I go to in my college town, and other produce like broccoli, potatoes, and apples are always cheap. Shop sales and keep your pantry stocked on staples like dry pasta, rice, beans, and other canned vegetables. It's not that expensive to eat decently.

3. Gorging on food at the dining hall just because you can.

This is what leads to the freshman 15. Just because you can eat whatever you want doesn't mean you should.

4. Procrastinating EVERYTHING.

I'm always ahead of my schoolwork, but all of the people in my classes push things right down to the wire. It creates unnecessary stress. Just get things done in advance so you don't have to worry.

5. Being generally unorganized and struggling to keep your life together. 

Actually using my planner is one of the best things I've done for myself in college so far. I don't know why it became popular for college students to be a hot mess all the time, but again, do what you can to avoid putting unnecessary stress on yourself.

6. Pulling all nighters, ever.

If you don't understand it by midnight, you won't understand it any better by five in the morning. You'll do so much better with less studying and more sleep than the other way around. Take the L and go to bed.

7. Waiting until the very last minute to start studying for your finals.

This is what typically leads to the aforementioned all-nighters. If you have an exam in two weeks, start studying NOW. Give yourself time to figure out what you need to focus on and get in contact with your professor or a tutor if necessary. Do yourself the favor.

8. Getting blackout drunk Friday and Saturday night...every weekend.

A lot of college students like to drink. That's fine, I get it, college is stressful and you just want to have a good time. But you don't have to go out every night of every weekend and drink so much you don't remember anything that didn't occur between Monday-Friday every week. Give yourself a break from drinking every so often.

9. Getting iced coffee before class and being late because of it.

I always make sure I get to campus early if I plan to get Starbucks, which I often do. It's rude to come in late, and it's detrimental to your education to consistently miss class. Your coffee can wait if you're running late. Plan better next time.

10.  Committing to 10 different extracurriculars because "it'll boost your resume if you have more on it!"

If you only participate in one club where you're the head of marketing and the treasurer, that will look SO much better than if you participated in five clubs but were just...there for all of them. Excel in one thing rather than being mediocre in many.

11.  Skipping class whenever you feel like it.

You can take the occasional mental health day, but if you're just being lazy, you're only hurting yourself. Go to class. You're paying a lot of money for it, after all.

12.  Spending every last penny you have to go somewhere for spring break (Daytona Beach, anyone?).

"Broke" college kids always end up taking the most extravagant spring break vacations. I'm sure it's fun and you'll cherish the memories, but wouldn't you cherish that $500 more if you saved it for things you actually need rather than living off of ramen for a month when you get home?

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