At two in the morning on Feb 8, Carly Susman ‘13, and Mark Mazer, ‘12, were awake and going a little crazy. As they riffed about Goucher College while on their computers, they suddenly became inspired. “I think that one of us made a Goucher joke and we were like, ‘why don’t we just make a page for this?’” Remembered Carly, “It sounded like a good idea at the time.” The Goucher Memes Facebook page was born.
What started with just their friends quickly exploded to over 200 people in the group after 24 hours. At press time, ten days later, the group had swelled to 660 members with 77 images of memes. There are countless comments and “likes” as well. The most popular meme, by freshman John Bescoby, displays an image of the Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world” with the caption “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I destroy every single exisign in [Heubeck].” The post, which references the recent vandalism, has 159 “likes.” A meme is defined as “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means.” The term was first coined in 1976 by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkings. In the age of the internet the word has come to mean simply “an internet joke,” as described by Carly, though both she and Mark do understand the origins of the word.
“It’s an idea that has been spread out among so many people that you can make that reference and it becomes part of the popular culture,” Mark explained.
A college meme Facebook page is not unique to Goucher. They have been somewhat of a craze lately. Carly and Mark, were inspired by the meme pages of Duke and Brandeis Universitys, where they have Facebook connections.
Each page involves their own school’s inside jokes. Often, the same images facilitate these various inside jokes. One, a meme featuring the character Fry from the TV show Futurama, has been particularly popular on Goucher Memes. The meme is captioned by “Not sure if (blank) or (blank).” It even spawned the first meme of the page “Not sure if hot dog or Jeremy Shadow,” created by Carly in that 2 am brain surge, commenting on a student known for wearing costumes around campus. “If you wear a hot dog suit around campus you can’t get offended,” justified Carly, “but if he had been I would have taken it down.” Offended he appeared not, as he wrote, “I demand more memes of me,” on the photo.
This lighthearted self-mocking tone was what Carly and Mark were going for. “[It is a] forum to laugh and to make jokes about Goucher and not in a hurtful way but to be able to say ‘oh that’s a funny thing and something that everyone can appreciate.’” Mark explained. In that vain, no one was turned away from the group. “We made a rule between us that we aren’t going to delete people unless they are actually really negative and hurtful,” Carly maintained. Even Assistant Dean of Community Living, Scott Eckhardt is a member, though has yet to make any posts or comments, even in response to one meme, captioned, “One does not simply negotiate with Scott Eckhardt.”
The page has not always maintained its carefree intentions. There were some issues with upset members over a particular poster Carly and Mark would not name and a backlash against those confused about how to properly use a meme, but when asked if they would create the group again, Carly and Mark were quick to answer. “We didn’t really do it for any reason than to have a little laugh,” said Mark. Carly understood exactly the role the Goucher Memes page has served: “It gave Goucher something to talk about.”