Amid a global pandemic, “Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens,” a new Facebook meme group created in the wake of national school closures, is blowing up with content.
In its three weeks of existence, it has connected people looking to practice languages, a New York Times reporter asking for story quotes, fundraisers from pre-med fraternities — and, of course, lots of memes.
The online group, which was created on March 12 and has already amassed nearly half a million members, says that it is “a meme page for college studs stuck doing online courses in closed universities.”
The page has attracted contributions from many Cornellians, who have turned to the viral power of memes as a way to grapple with the frustrations and uncertainties of the current crisis.
Emily Hurwitz ’21 said that the inspiration behind her meme, which poked fun at what online frat parties might look like, was partially in response to the Catherine Street block party. Students had been trying to unofficially celebrate the end-of-year tradition in March before it was shut down by Cornell officials a few days later.
“This was the weekend right before the Catherine Street block party was supposed to happen and so I was really angry about how that was still going on despite public health officials telling everyone to socially distance,” Hurwitz said. “So I was like here, I have your solution, online beer pong.”
Even though her inspiration was more Cornell-specific, Hurwitz mentioned that she enjoys seeing college students across the country relating to hers and others’ posts.
“I posted the same post in the Cornell meme page and it got around 50 likes, but on the Zoom meme page it got around 1500 likes,” Hurwitz said. “Everyone from all these different colleges has the same experience of ‘Zoom University’ and we’re all dealing with it the same way — by sharing memes.”
Jack Ross-Pilkington’s ’21 meme features a picture of Charles Darwin overlaid on an image of Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove. The goal of the meme, he said, was a way “to poke fun and kind of vent” about students who chose to go out despite public health warnings.
“I think the general mood on campus [after the announcement classes were cancelled] was pretty apprehensive, pretty worried … but on the other hand, some people were still going out and still partying,” said Ross-Pilkington, who has also gained recognition for his prolific contributions to Cornell’s meme page. “I was just really frustrated and annoyed.”
He said that he appreciates how Zoom memes is a place where people can use humor to share what they are going through and to connect with others online.
“In a period of intense stress a lot of people really seek connection and humor can be an important vehicle for that,” Ross-Pilkington said. “Humor kind of lightens the tension and serves as a reminder that we are all in the same boat, so that’s what I do appreciate about Zoom memes.”
Besides posting more traditional memes, Michelle Robbins ’21 decided to share an email she received from one of her professors, Prof. Steven Alvarado, sociology.
“A lot of the memes [on the page] are about students stressed out about their professors requiring them to do work or not really caring about their mental health,” Robbins said. “Prof. Alvarado has been really great adapting to the whole situation and I just wanted to show how wholesome he is.”
When Robbins checked back a few days later and saw that 8,000 people reacted to her post, she stated that she “was just kind of blown away.”
“This page is bringing people together across all these different colleges because we are all experiencing the same thing right now,” Robbins said. “It makes you feel like you aren’t so alone in the world and that you aren’t going through this alone.”