I distinctly remember being introduced to the wondrously bizarre land that is “Swampy Memes for Twampy Teens” upon my arrival at the College of William and Mary. I wasn’t exactly sure what a college-specific meme page would look like, and “Swampy Memes” has certainly been an experience. I quickly realized that “Swampy Memes” was the way most of the student body stayed up to date about what was happening on campus. What I also noticed was that “Swampy Memes” seemed to be a haven for the College’s infamous stress culture. Many of the postings that weren’t about relevant news were often about students posting about their stress and about how hard they were working. While I understand the need to vent about academics — or about life in general — there is a massive difference between discussing the woes of three midterms in one week to a friend, off-line, and posting it online for thousands of people to see.
I do think that in recent months there has been an improvement in the general culture of “Swampy Memes.” Beneath whatever complaint has been made in the original post, there are often recommendations being made on actions that can be taken to remedy whatever the student’s complaint. While not all situations are fixable — I’m looking at you, the great Housing Crisis of 2019 — I think the shift in attitude from simply complaining to also trying to find actionable solutions is an important one.
I also think that “Swampy Memes” is unique in that it is where many students, myself included, get their news on what is happening on campus. However, as many big issues do get aggressively covered in “Swampy Memes” content (again most recently the many housing issues), I think a lot of what is happening at the College goes unnoticed. Now, as a member of The Flat Hat, I am certainly biased, but many of our students’ accomplishments that are published in several places, not just The Flat Hat, go largely ignored because they are not being shared as memes. While again, I love spending time on “Swampy Memes,” I think it is important to recognize that it is not the only place, or perhaps even the best place, to get information about what is happening on campus.
I think it is incredibly important to recognize the very special space that “Swampy Memes” fills at the College, and the wonderful art that is created specifically for it is, in fact, fantastic. But at the risk of sounding too much like your middle school teachers, what we put on the internet does have consequences. It is important to remember that “Swampy Memes” is a big part of forming the College’s stress culture.
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