If you are a student here at the College of William and Mary who’s even a little bit hip, I know you’ve at least heard of the infamous Facebook group “Swampy Memes for Twampy Teens.” Personally, I joined this group the summer before I even got to the College, and at the time the memes meant nothing to me, as they were all inside jokes about life on campus. I was excited to get to school and see what they were all about, and the group has not disappointed during my time here.
Although recently there has been discourse about “Swampy Memes” and the idea that the memes within it encourage the stress culture that weighs down on students here on a daily basis, I see the group as quite the opposite. Swampy Memes creates a space where students can express complaints in a not-so-serious way, start conversations among other students and find a little comic relief in our stressful everyday life.
If you scroll through the most recent posts on “Swampy Memes” at this given moment, you will see lots of memes about the Residence Life debacle, registration failures, Sodexo disappointments and the griffin statue. Even though a large percentage of the memes posted on the daily are some sort of negative commentary about issues on campus, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. “Swampy Memes” creates a low-pressure and accepting environment for students at the College to blow off some steam about their current frustrations. It is a low-stakes way to get feelings off your chest and, in turn, receive validation from students who feel the same way as you. In any area of my life, I am comforted when I know that people agree with me and are experiencing the same feelings on an issue. Really, what’s the problem with gaining support from comments and the “haha” react button on Facebook?
Another beneficial thing that “Swampy Memes” has done for our campus is start meaningful conversations about controversial issues. In fact, members can even become “conversation starters” on the page if they consistently share content and comment on other people’s memes, a title that holds quite a bit of pride for a friend of mine who has received it. It can definitely be argued that “Swampy Memes” isn’t the right platform for important conversations surrounding mental wellness and other issues on campus to take place, and I completely agree with that. However, I think it is a great place for these conversations to spark. If a meme gets posted about a specific issue and students gather in the comment section voicing similar opinions, you acquire a whole group of students come together. There’s power in numbers, and to make change around at the College, you need as many voices to be heard as you can get. “Swampy Memes” is a good starting point for these groups.
Lastly, here’s my favorite thing about “Swampy Memes”: it’s funny. Simple as that. I love the large variety of memes from students all over campus that are posted every day — it creates such a unique place for student expression and creativity. You’re bound to see at least one meme that makes you chuckle when you’re scrolling through during class (not that I would ever do that) or on a study break, and since the commentary is tailored to our own student body, most of the posts are hashtag relatable. Whenever I get a notification saying “a friend has tagged you in a post in ‘Swampy Memes for Twampy Teens,’” I know that it’ll give me a smile, and sometimes you need just that to get through a long study session at Swem or any particularly dreary day. Whether you think “Swampy Memes” is helpful for students or not, you can’t deny it a little laugh every once in a while.
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