In recent years, social media has created new words and phrases for different types of viral videos and content. One of the most common terms for viral content is a meme.
Memes are no stranger to college students and of course, no stranger to the No. 1 School in Innovation, Arizona State University.
The relevance of a meme to college students is, in many cases, a form of pride for students. To band around a meme or to support a meme about their school on Twitter by liking or re-tweeting is some students’ form of school spirit.
One example of a popular ASU meme is from a junior marketing and sports and media studies major, Benjamin Gruca. As many of you may know, No. 1 in Innovation is a title that ASU has held for three years in a row and it has made its way into meme culture in that time.
Gruca's tweet described different things that No. 1 in Innovation can "mean," such as "bragging about being better than Stanford and MIT" and "bee alerts."
“The ‘No. 1 in Innovation’ memes are popular because it is ASU’s identity. It is partly a joke to us as it doesn’t directly affect our education, but I also feel that students unite under this slogan that we’ve had for three years,” Gruca writes in an email.
Meme culture is especially popular here because, according to Gruca, it offers an identity to the ASU community that can connect everybody.
“Memes help build ASU culture because, again, it provides ASU with an identity and commonality that students can agreeably laugh about,” Gruca writes. “ASU has a lot of quirky attributes that are enjoyable to poke fun at. I think it is in our culture to laugh at ourselves.”
There has also been a rise in meme accounts not only for ASU but for specific clubs or topics such as EDM and sports.
One of the largest sports-centric accounts for ASU is Barstool ASU. This account tends to have videos and tweets regarding all aspects of Arizona State, from students to parties to the University's bitter rivalry against the University of Arizona.
Barstool ASU account director Jack McCarthy says the account’s popularity is due to relatable content about everyday student life at ASU.
"Each school has a specific account usually so it's just more relatable," McCarthy says. "So an ASU page is obviously more relatable for ASU students."
Many of the posts on this account, as mentioned, show the rivalry between UA in basketball, football, academics and so on. Those also tend to be some of the best-performing memes for the account and it definitely shows how strong this rivalry is between the Sun Devils and Wildcats.
"My favorite stuff is whenever we beat UA in something," McCarthy says. "Those kind of posts are always going to do the best, just because it's just like a mutual rivalry and everyone kind of understands it."
There is also a Barstool account for UofA and McCarthy says he enjoys the opportunity to use memes and tweets to poke fun at the school. This tends to get more engagement for Barstool and the account recieves generally positive feedback from the community.
"(The feedback is) pretty much all positive. We do more explicit content than other pages do, so that would be like the only issue we've ever had," McCarthy says. "But other than that all the students love it and even I get teachers and athletes around ASU campus that love it too."
Memes do not have to be professionally made or posted through a popular account to get traction, as seen with Gruca’s ‘No. 1 in Innovation’ tweet. You can have a good idea, display it on social media and the likes and retweets will come flocking. Also, there is the opportunity to alter a tweet to fit your school in a funny and creative way that can create buzz.
ASU sophomore and engineering management major Rohan Ghiya also had a viral tweet and was again centered around the No. 1 in Innovation title ASU holds.
“You can’t live in Arizona and not know about that,” Ghiya says. “You can go anywhere (on campus) and ASU kids are screaming about it.”
In response to his viral meme and the attention it received, Ghiya says that representing where you come from, especially a specific aspect of the school, is a staple of memes.
“Those tweets were really about, you know, everybody representing their school and that individuality of where you come from,” Ghiya says. “And because people related to that whole No. 1-in-Innovation vibe at ASU, it kind of went crazy.”
Ghiya mentions his tweet and a similar one regarding Juuling and how college students react to aspects of their college’s identity.
“At ASU and around the country people like to rep wherever they’re from whether it’s good or bad,” Ghiya says.
Meme culture is alive and well at ASU, and whether it will be the four-peat of our innovative title or our basketball team that is next to create social media attention, there is sure to be relatable memes popping up on your feed sometime very soon. If you're lucky, maybe a meme you've created will go viral.
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