United We Stand, Divided We Meme

“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?!”Image result for joe biden ice creamWe 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.

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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.

Protesters hold a demonstration in Washington Square Park in New York City on Friday, November 11.

Protestors in New York City last week. Photo courtesy of CNN.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 comments

  1. Love this post. I totally agree how strange it is that we normalize so quickly. One moment we’re screaming and protesting the election results while minutes later we are laughing at Trump/Biden memes. The spike in Biden memes in the last week was pretty shocking to me (but so glad that it happened). The social media community has really created this happy Bromance between the President and VP, but it will be interesting to see if they can do the same in a Trump presidency. While Obama/Biden memes are light hearted and in good faith, I can’t say the same for Trump memes.

  2. Thanks for sharing this article. I can relate so much to it. My favorite “Biden Meme” was definitely one I saw last night that said, ” I don’t remember saying this things…how did they put them on a picture of us?”. I feel like in a way though the country in the past two weeks has displayed AGGRESSIVE violence and turmoil that these divided memes have brought comic relief to them all. I agree my roommates and teammates have all been giggling over these. After a while though when does it become too much?

  3. fernaneq4 · ·

    I found it amazing how quickly the Obama/Biden memes took off (then again we know how quickly memes take off). Overnight Biden is everywhere and they are quite hilarious. If were being honest, I never paid too much attention to the Vice President and now I’m googling to learn more about him. If anything, this phenomena has helped the Obama administrations public view! My family group chat is going off with all of the memes and all social media seems to be getting a kick out of it. Great read!

  4. It’s crazy how the Internet can have two completely different attitudes toward politics. On one hand we have the riled up crowd who remains angry, defiant, or concerned, but on the other side we have the memes and jokes. It’s true that people can reconcile the two and participate in both of those spaces – it definitely makes politics more bearable for most of us. It makes me wonder what people did prior to the world wide web…they missed out on so much great content.

  5. I think that memes are, as any kind of comedy, a way to use the political situation in order to create content. I actually think it is great that these kind of things occur, however i believe that there is a great risk in the spreading of memes, as in the generalization of any kind of comical trend and it is the lose of respect to the subject of the comedy. For example, after this meme rally of Joe Bidden, several things happen, more people know who he is, more people find him friendly and everyone that thinks about Joe Biden after seeing all this memes will think about the bormance and how funny it was, forgetting or at least giving less importance to the fact that this man was the vice president of the United States, his position has been trivialized.
    In this case the result is not very important, but what happens if we do these kind of comedy with trump and deporting immigrants?

  6. Incredible post. Thank you for articulating this so clearly, because this is how I’ve been trying to explain this phenomenon to my friends. I’m very glad that in the wake of, what many have considered, very troubling election results the internet has come together in a comedic (and largely harmless) way as opposed to many of the riots that were seen on the morning after the election.

    Hopefully this is a sign of our intention to truly come together as a nation, and move forward together. I feel bad that Biden is the butt of nearly every joke, but he has definitely positioned himself as America’s cool uncle. I’d also recommend a look at this article by the man to post one of the first post-election #BROTUS memes and get his thoughts on how this is helping us move forward. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/11/17/meet-man-behind-biden-pranking-trump-memes/94028158/

  7. magicjohnshin1 · ·

    Awesome post! It’s absolutely mind blowing how much this election has really been affected by technology. However, I think its wonderful that people can make jokes about a topic like this. Although the whole situation can be very sensitive, it definitely lightens up the mood to be able to see these meme’s that make jokes of the situation. It does provide comedic relief with everything going on and it gives me hope to see these memes all over the internet. I remember being on Facebook the day of the election and it was just such a somber day. So I’m glad it has taken this turn for the better. Look forward to reading more of your posts, cheers!

  8. I’ve been looking at these memes on Facebook all week. Some of h m are absolutely hysterical! Hopefully these are a reflection of the currently very divided USA’s tensions beginning to ease to a halt.

  9. adamsmea89 · ·

    This was a great post. I completely agree that these memes have allowed people to post political things and let people know what side they are on, but at the same time have them be much more lighthearted than what we have seen recently. I think most people agree these memes are funny, and that seems to be the only thing people can agree on. It is very true that aside from the people protesting, most people have already accepted and are used to the idea that Trump will be president. Humans really do have the ability to adapt to whatever situation they are faced with, and in this case that is a good thing!

  10. NIce post. Have definitely loved these memes this week!

  11. Awesome post! So timely. I’ve LOVED all of the BROTUS memes that have emerged over the past two weeks. Many of us are experiencing a whole slew of upsetting emotions following the election, so these memes are such a great light-hearted way to make us smile! I just love the underlying message that Joe is a lost puppy without Obama to lead the way and how he’ll be so heartbroken come moving day!

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