You don’t get to 2,000 “likes” in a day without a few trolls. At least not if you’re the creators of the University of Colorado Memes Facebook page. CU Memes, a Facebook page run by three University of Colorado students, launched at 12:30 a.m. last Tuesday and quickly flooded student newsfeeds with memes. The page’s popularity exploded overnight. At press time, the page had 5,453 Facebook likes.
For those unfamiliar with memes, the basic definition of “meme” is an idea that can be passed quickly from one person to another. More specifically, internet memes are images with a starburst background that rely on inside jokes to make a cultural reference. Popular examples of memes are “Rage guy,” “Insanity Wolf,” and even “Neil deGrasse Tyson Reaction!”
With the overwhelming acceptance of the page, staying anonymous was not a major concern for the creators.
“I feel safe unmasking ourselves,” said Mike Heffler, co-creator and 20-year-old junior biochemistry major.
Originally the trio of creators believed they should keep their identities secret.
“I said when we first started it, to quote Batman, ‘I don’t want to because as a man I can be stopped, but as CU Memes, I am truly invincible,’” said Ian Bruns, a sophomore computer science major, and one of the creators of CU Memes.
Although memes have been around on popular forum websites such as Reddit.com and 4chan.org, tailoring memes to specific universities has recently spread through Facebook.
“I just wanted a CU Memes page that I could get.” Heffler said. “I’m from Austin and I was looking at [University of Texas] Memes and some of them I would get because they would be about basic stuff from living in Austin. But a lot were about things on campus that I wouldn’t get. I wanted that for here. And now we have it.”
After researching early adopters of university memes pages, the trio, which also includes Chelsea Watson, a junior studio arts major, quickly assembled their own.
“It started on Tuesday,” Bruns said. “Heffler posted on his personal Facebook page that maybe we should do this. Two hours later Chelsea posted, and there was a consensus. Chelsea created the group, and Heffler and I became admins.”
The group agrees that its numbers will probably continue to rise based on the success of similar pages at other universities.
“University of Texas had 4,000 on Monday morning, and then it sky-rocketed. I think that was their ‘big day,’” Heffler said.
Heffler, Bruns and Watson admit the first memes were their own, at least for the first five minutes.
“I think the one that has the most ‘likes’ is one I posted pretty early on,” Bruns said. “It’s one of my favorite memes, Pushing Patrick, and it says, ‘We should take the Engineering Center, and give it better architecture.’”
As of Thursday afternoon, of the 674 memes posted, 42 are from the founders.
“We didn’t make this for ourselves,” Bruns said. “The point of it was for people to join in. It’s also like a sideways way to vent about school problems, like the 9 a.m. Buff Bus or the food in Darley Commons.”
They also admit to enjoying the memes that poke fun at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, University of Northern Colorado, and Colorado School of Mines, especially since Mines and Greeley have their own memes pages.
“Apparently Mines and Greeley are worse at meme-ing than some people at CU are,” Bruns said. “You’d think that people at Mines, who are nerds for a living, would get it right. Although I guess this is probably the pot calling the kettle black, since I’m a computer science major.”
Recently, most of the time the CU Meme Team puts into its page is spent moderating the site, avoiding homework, and enjoying the constant feed of fresh, local memes.
“We should have expected people on a meme site to do some trolling,” Bruns said.
Many of the comments also reference Reddit and 4chan, claiming that Facebook is not the place for memes. However, most comments on the CU Memes page are mocking users who are using the memes incorrectly. Because memes reference inside jokes from the internet, the words added to them by users to make new jokes have to fit the style of the original reference. Sometimes people don’t follow that style or are completely oblivious to the references being made.
“All of the schools are having that same problem,” Watson said.
As for where they are headed, the group definitely wants to expand.
“If UT has like 30,000 something undergrads and tons of graduates, they probably have a total market of 40,000 that they could reach,” Heffler said. “They’re at 10,000 or so now, so I figure we can get 7,000. That would probably be good for our campus. If we get to 10 or 15,000, that will be amazing.”
Despite its speculation, the CU Meme Team already considers the page an achievement.
“Even if it does plateau where we are now, I am going to consider this a success,” Bruns said. “I think the quote is, ‘Thanks to the Internet, everyone will have their five seconds of fame.’ If it ends it ends. But I’d like to keep it going. It’s hilarious and relevant to my life.”
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Anne Robertson at Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org.