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How Memes Affect the Psychological Well-being of College Students

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The research topic that I am interested in is about how memes affect the psychological well-being of college students. This topic sparks up my interest since almost all of my peers and I use or share memes on a daily basis. I would like to know how memes affect us, why it is popular nowadays, if it helps us express ourselves more, and what its role is in line with our mental health. In the world today where people use social media for endless information and social validation, memes provide people with a sense of belonging to a bigger community. When we post something that goes viral, we receive a sense of validation from the netizens. If we are updated with the recent memes, we feel a sense of belongingness with our peers who share the same interests as us. Some memes could be funny, but other memes talk about serious topics in an easier and lighter way. According to Jenner (2018), memes help get millennials to talk about mental health. Viral memes on social media gets ideas into people’s heads, to get people talking, and ultimately encourage them to think differently about depression and other mental health issues. Psychology Today highlights memes as something that can deliver ideas, with the end goal of getting people talking. Depression memes are a valid and useful way to get depression into the public, thus encouraging people to start thinking differently about depression, be it is showing the strength of those who have beat depression, or simply just to give a glimpse of what it is like to live with chronic depression. The magazine states, a silly meme could make all the difference.

This research topic is relevant to the society because some people suppress their feelings and deal with their mental illness alone, but with the use of memes people could express themselves more and memes are a good way to feel less alone. Memes serve many purposes and functions, but at an important level, they serve as an expression of people’s emotions and opinions. People who post memes that become viral receive a sense of belongingness in the community, and they also receive a sense of social validation. Memes are an easy and funny way for millennials to communicate with their peers, whether they’re used to vent their feelings over certain issues, or to talk about their obsessions with celebrities, or simply just for entertainment. Meme content can range from complaining about the hardships of being a college student, to expressing embarrassment felt during an encounter in a person’s daily life, and that is something that everyone can be able to sympathize with.

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This topic’s contribution to the Psychological department is that people use memes as a coping mechanism. Memes could help us escape the stress and the horrors of the modern day society. For some online communities, depressive memes have served as a kind of therapeutic expression. They establish a discussion on mental illness and enable genuine connections to be formed between users. According to Young-White (2018), using memes as a coping mechanism for depression is totally valid. For him, the magic of memes has always been their ability to highlight shared experiences of hundreds and thousands of people, and it is much healthier rather than bottling up your emotions. People with depression and anxiety also make memes in order to feel less isolated, since memes can be created by anyone, anywhere with a computer or a smartphone. Making memes allow people to discuss their experiences in a way where they aren’t as scared that they would come off as too ‘intense’ or ‘heavy’, and they can comfortably talk about things online the things that they feel uncomfortable sharing in person.

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