“I freakin’ LOVE Joe Biden!” my roommate exclaimed, doubled over in laughter on our common room floor at 1 AM. “It’s so irrational. I know it. But all of these MEMES! They are just so great. I don’t even know that much about him”, she continued, giggling and turning her phone screen towards me, “but just LOOK at this. How could you not love this guy?!”We had been talking, as so many have been, about the implications of last week’s Presidential election. Our roommates, much like our country, are widespread in their reactions. Some have been outwardly angry, others despairingly sad. The silence of a few has hinted at their quiet elation, while others have chosen silence as their path of least resistance. Being a week out from the decision, tensions in the room had started to simmer (it is amazing how quickly we normalize, isn’t it?). But in a quiet moment between the two of us, we found ourselves revisiting our initial reactions and processing those of our friends. For the most part, the conversation had been pretty somber, as we had yet to discuss one-on-one where our heads were at. So this moment of meme-induced elation, though small, felt an uplifting transition out of a heavy conversation–a nice distraction to leave off on so we could ease our minds enough to sleep.
It has been just over a week since we elected Republican nominee Donald Trump as our next #POTUS. The result of one of the most divisive elections in US history has sparked widespread civil unrest, with an immediate spike in hate crimes and both peaceful and violent protests nationwide. Regardless of personal opinion, the election has objectively highlighted a pressing divide in values across almost all American communities.
In the wake of such division, our country has begun to reconcile through the same vehicle that arguably got us here in the first place: social media. Though each of the past three elections have been dubbed the “first” social media election, the past two pale in comparison to 2016’s media-centered circus. Expectedly, its importance has increased tenfold post election day.
The divisiveness of the election posed a difficult problem for social media influencers. Any post poking fun at one candidate or the other could spark controversial conversations in the comments from both sides. Supermodel Bella Hadid, for example, posted the above photo of Hillary Clinton to her Instagram account post-election to indicate her continued support for the candidate. She did so, however, while disabling the ability of her 7.5 million followers to comment on the picture. For many on social media, especially those with large followings, the political commentary had become too destructive to encourage an open dialogue.
So instead of continuing the conversation, many decided merely to shift topics. Enter #BROTUS, or the internet’s latest term of endearment for the friendship of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The two have a famously close relationship that has been teased in the meme world for a number of years. In the wake of the election, however, the occasional Twitter tease has turned into a full-blown field day. Memes of their relationship have flooded all social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
The typical #BROTUS meme follows a recipe somewhere along the lines of this: take a photo of Biden and Obama together, add a theoretical dialogue in which Biden proposes a childish action, and have Obama diplomatically shut him down. Often times, Biden’s proposed childish actions pertain to pranking or thwarting Donald Trump as his terms begins.
Though silly, the memes of our current President and VP seem to offer some comedic relief to those polarized by current affairs. Biden’s fantasy revenge plans resonate with those wishing Obama could sit in for a third term, and those excited for Trump’s inauguration can giggle at the goofiness of their supposed bromance. If nothing else, the humanity and togetherness expressed in the memes is a nice break from the consistently charged political posts of late. Whether these memes are true to reality or not, that’s only for Obama and Biden (and friendship bracelets) to know.
As time goes on, the differing sides can hopefully find more in common than a funny political meme or two. Increased mutual understanding is essential to resolving the issues that this election has brought to light. So ask questions. Listen intently. Read a book. Maybe even share an ice cream–I’m sure Biden would oblige.