Student Joins Meme Pages for 'Networking Purposes'
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Student Joins Meme Pages for 'Networking Purposes'

Alex Manning reports on why he won't let Emory's "Forever 21" status hold him back!

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Student Joins Meme Pages for 'Networking Purposes'
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It's not just anyone who can get waitlisted at Harvard. At least that's what Emory University student Alex Manning (21B) said in our recent interview.

"You've just always gotta ask yourself, 'now what?'" Manning explained. "For most people who get waitlisted the next step is to tell everyone about your accomplishment," he chuckled through his teeth. (This fact checks out; according to the Associated Press, 23% of small talk during orientation is listing schools that accepted the respective conversation partners.)

But getting waitlisted is just a conversation started, and Manning wasn't willing to settle. He wanted to chat with students and alums as part of the Harvard network, all without actually attending the college.

"I needed to know which dorms are falling apart, what gen-ed requirements are causing the most headaches, and which administrators are being hypocritical," Manning explained.

At first Manning maintained a half-baked long distance relationship with a former high school classmate and Harvard student, Rachel Jacobson. However, she soon grew tired of his constant questions about student body culture and controversies.

"Alex was always asking me about about the UC elections, or about the quality of Crimson Catering," Jacobson commented. "Heck, he wasn't even asking about what I thought; he wanted to know what other people, what different cliques thought of these things!" The couple broke it off during the Fall of their first year.

Newly single and without connections, Manning started searching for a new scoop. He was surfing the web when he discovered the Facebook Harvard meme page, Harvard Memes for Elitist 1% Tweens, in the Spring of 2018.

"I was like, 'Eureka!'" Manning related. "Not only is the content itself useful, but I get to meet some key players through the comments." After removing "Emory University" from his bio, Manning tested his knowledge online. He was soon striking up conversations via Messenger with Harvard students, complaining about the length of the Convocation speaker and joshing about Harvard's racist past. Manning says that the day he knew he had succeeded was the day "[a] friend tagged me in the comments of a meme that said 'tag that one guy who pre-games calculus lectures'" he beamed. "I knew that I was one of them."

Passing as a Harvardian was not enough for the always-striving Manning however. He soon took on new challenges using his same successful methods.

"After I felt like I was fluent in the Harvard lingo, I expanded my meme consumption. Now I'm on the Yale, Princeton, Brown, Penn, Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth pages. I also joined Stanford, Duke, Vandy." Interestingly, records indicate that Manning was briefly active on the Wellesley page until an admin blocked him from the group in November 2018. Manning declined to comment on this topic.

Can aspiring networkers follow in Manning's footsteps? It depends; the game has changed since Manning's days. In 2017 Harvard's meme page was public. The past year has seen the conversion of many University meme pages from public pages to public groups, or even private groups that require approval to join. The attempt at privacy has not deterred Manning, however.

"I think it's a good thing that they're getting more selective, though I'm glad that it's not before I got started. It's important to strike a balance of actual Ivy League students and posers."

Manning describes his experience as the perfect investment for his future life in the business world.

"There's not really much support at Emory for anyone who isn't curing cancer. But after scouting out contacts through the comments and learning the best targets for trash-talking at each school, I feel confident that I can hold my own at any 'good ole boys' club. Regardless of alma mater."

Alex Manning is a senior at the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University. He is the Social Media Outreach Coordinator for the Emory Wheel and works for the Alumni Network.

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