Courage Wolf, move on over. Advice Dog, step aside. Wolfie, Stony Brook’s mascot, is now by far the most popular canine-based meme on campus.
SBU Memes, a Facebook fan page that was launched on Wednesday, has become an instant Stony Brook phenomenon. By the time SBU Memes had been on Facebook for a day, it had already amassed 1,000 likes. A week later, the number was just shy of 3,500. The memes are typically shared by scores of students and seen by hundreds of their friends.
Jess, the creator of SBU Memes, said she was inspired by Boston University’s meme page. She asked that we not disclose her last name because she is applying for jobs.
“I honestly wasn’t into memes before I made this page,” she said, adding how shocked she was that it became so popular. “I didn’t expect it to blow up that quickly at all.”
This certainly isn’t the first time that a collection of memes has become popular on the Internet. Image boards, curated and crowd-sourced alike, have long been favorite destinations for Internet users.
Tumblr, Reddit and 4chan are just some of the meme-filled sites that rank among the Internet’s 1,000 most visited websites, according to Alexa, a website that monitors website traffic. Sites exclusively dedicated to memes, like Knowyourmeme and Meme Generator, aren’t far behind.
It is, however, Stony Brook’s most popular discussion forum to date. Stony Brook Things, a Tumblr blog featuring similar content, never took off quite the same way. It’s picked up popularity in recent days, though many of the newer posts were originally featured on SBU Memes.
And unlike SBUChat, SBU Memes is embracing the mainstream. By using Facebook, the page has been able to grow organically. The meme format and host site also means that trouble is less likely. The posts are not anonymous and the purpose of the page is to post humorously captioned pictures. A Wikileaks-style dumping of student information on this page seems unlikely.
At its best, the page has put the likes and dislikes, along with the lore of Stony Brook into writing. Their dislikes include the administration’s policies, (“Raises tuition, builds hotel,” read one chronologically-challenged meme) and geese.
Roosevelt and Kelly Quads were both stereotyped: Kelly as a haven for potheads and Roosevelt as “a shadowy place” and a “hood.”
By far the most popular meme was one that poked fun at the Tabler steps while referencing a Jay-Z song. It had more than 1,100 likes and 100 shares on Thursday.
“I got 99 problems. 54 of them are the Tabler steps,” reads the meme. The text was placed over a photo of the steps, covered in snow.
Sophomore Emma Tobias became the star of a meme after sharing a photo of herself on the Where in the World is Wolfie fan page. In it, she’s holding a small stuffed Wolfie outside of a pagoda in Reading, Pennsylvania.
“1 Million USD and we’ll return the wolf,” read the meme that used her photo, suggesting that Tobias had kidnapped Wolfie and was holding him for ransom, possibly in China. Tobias wasn’t a fan of the joke.
“It took me a minute to remember that it was all just part of a joke and I could laugh it off,” she said.
Still, she enjoys the page and has shared a number of the memes posted on and by it.
“They’re really funny as a whole,” Tobias said of the memes, “and it gives us a way to just tell it like it is on campus.”
Other students have been less emphatic about the memes’ quality.
While sitting towards the back of the USG Senate meeting, Ken Myers, a member of the Student Activities Board, decided to show his two friends sitting next to him a few of the memes. At first they laughed quietly, as not to disrupt the senate. But a few memes in, the laughter stopped.
“This is so stupid,” Myers said, closing the window. He later explained his thoughts on the page.
“Some of them are wrong. People are just putting text on a picture,” he said. “But they’re getting better.” Myers pointed to some of the captioned pictures of Wolfie as a sign of the page’s improving quality.
“I actually reposted one of them,” he added.
Myers expressed concerns about memes that were insensitive towards Asian and Asian American students. High Expectations Asian Father showed up quite a few times, as did jokes specific to the behaviors of Asians on campus.
“Has to print one page. Asian in front of you is printing math textbook,” read one meme. “Seawolf? Why not A-wolf?” read another.
“They’re not really that offensive,” said Asian American E-Zine’s Vice President Brian Loo after looking at some of the memes targeting Asians. The publication’s staff was looking at the memes as he spoke. He said he had seen some of the memes before SBU Memes shared them and that most of them weren’t very funny.
The comments, however, were a different story. Adam Sue, the club’s president, pointed to one on a photo of a sign that read “YOUR IN SEAWOLVES COUNTRY.”
“Damn Asians!” wrote a student, complaining about the misused “your.”
“Even people who were born here make that mistake all the time,” said Sue, pointing out that some of the other jokes on the site stereotyped Asians as being good at academics, something he didn’t mind.
To the campus’s credit, a few commenters, both Asian and not, jumped on the comment for being bigoted. Others blamed the grammatical error on science majors.
“I don’t bother talking to those kinds of people,” said Wilson Jiang, a staff writer. The group compared the commenters to the “trolls” that inhabit sites like YouTube and traditional image boards.
The page has certainly not been without its critics. Jess was more than willing to acknowledge them. “The memes are definitely hit or miss as a few students have commented. I didn’t expect everyone to like all of them,” she said.
She mentioned one commenter in particular who argued with a meme joking that “everyone” on campus is from Long Island.
“So many people are unable to grasp the concept of exaggeration and satire,” Jess said. Obviously not everyone here is from Long Island but 48 percent is still a lot! A little hyperbole never hurt anyone. Except that kid, apparently.”
Jess’s only fear was that she would portray Stony Brook in a negative light. She said a commenter asked if Stony Brook was a bad place to go to school and that she responded by saying she loved it here.
“I did it for laughs,” said Jess. “My sole intent was to make people laugh, to provide an interactive place where students and alum could joke about Stony Brook while really giving everyone a sense of community.”
Jess shared a quote from a friend that she thought put the intention of her site best.
“Wherever you go to school, you need to be able to laugh. Every school has its share of dumb administrative moves, professor and technology issues, and confused students. SBU is a great place, especially if you make it worth your while.”