The Facebook group “Edgy Memes for the University of Oregon Green Teens” and the Instagram @edgeyuo both produce original, UO-related memes. Since COVID-19 forced spring and summer terms to be held remotely, these meme pages have found themselves at the surprising intersection of being a common place for students to stay connected to each other and as an info hub for news related to UO and the greater Eugene area.
Meme pages have been gaining immense popularity in the last few years, including accounts like @collegefessing. College Confessions, an account dedicated to posting memes and follower-submitted confessions for and from college students, has almost 5.5 million followers, using their status as a private Instagram account as an incentive for people to remain followers.
“Edgy Memes for University of Oregon Green Teens” currently has 1,926 members and is a private group. Nathan Shapiro, the group creator, and Tyler Cardiel, a moderator, accept new members as long as they are UO students.
Having a space where a meme is relatable to an individual’s personal life, like references to professors and the university’s president, draws people to the UO-specific meme pages, Cardiel said.
Edgeyuo, whose tagline is “UO Schillposting,” a play on words to “shit posting,” has over 3,500 followers. The page had 666 followers in December 2019 and gained over 600 new followers in one week in mid-March, when UO was still determining whether spring term classes would be taught remotely. By mid-May, the page had gained over four times more followers, according to page creator Karen Steele, a 2020 UO graduate.
“Before COVID-19 and quarantine, I was making a majority of the posts. After, I was getting a ton of submissions,” Steele said. “[Making memes] is a way for people to be putting out how they feel, and I got hundreds of posts every day. In isolation especially, we’re wanting to keep connected and wanting that connection and making memes is how we’re doing that.”
The shift to fully remote learning in spring term was “unexpected,” Cardiel said. The Facebook group saw a greater influx of posts and member engagement in the first half of spring term.
“When lockdown started, there was a vent thread and students were getting off their chest about how detrimental it was going into lockdown,” Shapiro said. “It’s also still a space where students get together and laugh at nonsense - it’s a way for them to reach out in a particular way, not just a Facebook group where they say ‘Hi, how are you,’ but communicate with jokes.”
Both the Facebook group and the Instagram page have also been asked to share petitions, online events and even information about the Associated Students of the University of Oregon student government elections since spring term was announced to be fully remote.
These meme pages and groups have just become another place for social communication, Shapiro said.
“Facebook is mainly a dead platform, so people are typically just shitposting [in our group]. As more people come into the university, more people will join it and more people will flood it with content,” Shapiro said. “[Meme pages are] just gonna be what people are going to go to for communication since people will have more time on their hands.”
Even for students that have graduated, the space is still open to them.
“If you can make a meme about UO or college culture, then you belong there,” Cardiel said. “We still know about how awful Taylor’s was, we meme about Frog, we know what makes UO our shared space.”
The future of these pages, since all three moderators are now graduates, is undecided.
Steele is still moderating, but is looking for someone to take over the account.
Shapiro and Cardiel are still moderating as well. Shapiro stated he is “not willing to part with [the group] just yet” and is currently finding some underclassmen to become additional moderators.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m an imposter, like I’m pretending to be a ‘fellow youth’ but it’s still okay, because at the end of the day it’s about the memes,” Cardiel said.