Students shouldn’t be sharing memes that trivialize violence

SFU Dank Memes Gang is complicit in the normalization of sexual assault and violence

Making light of serious issues isn’t as funny as you think it is. Text by Marissa Ouyang / The Peak. Image courtesy of Sunrise.

By: Jess Dela Cruz, News Writer 

With over 5,000 members, SFU Dank Memes Gang is a popular Facebook page that acts as an outlet to complain about life at SFU. School administration and the never-ending construction are frequent and fair targets of this humour. The memes posted share in the struggles of student life and the rivalry between aculties and other post-secondary institutions. Even the gondola is fair game for either praise or mockery. 

The Facebook page has a mix of humourous and questionable memes. Those that cross a line are ones that make light of personal safety, sexuality and sexual identity, sexual assault, suicide, and gun violence. Because these are such sensitive topics that some group members could have intimate experience with, these subjects should not be publicized into offensive jokes and photos on social media.

When memes make fun of personal safety, such as one depicting a man with his eyes closed with a subtitle on the photo: “[sobbing] Please don’t eat my ass, spirits,” and an indication that the area around the residence buildings are unsafe, they aren’t actually funny. This is a real safety concern for many students, and we shouldn’t be making fun of this situation. The more we joke about real risks like this, the less likely we are to take people seriously when they report instances of assault on campus.

This meme made me extremely uncomfortable and disturbed. I didn’t find this at all funny when it brought to mind all the memories being followed home by men — including one who went right up behind me to my doorstep. I need many more fingers and toes than I have to count the number of times men have walked quicker and closer behind me, how often I’ve had to call male friends on the phone or even pretended to make a call, turn off the music in my headphones to be more aware of my surroundings, walk to the other side of the street, or even run home. With all that in mind, these memes aren’t even remotely funny to me. Campus safety? What’s that? Getting to residency and other locations on campus at night time has been such a safety concern that there was a petition to keep the campus shuttle around for safety reasons. But yes, the danger students feel in their everyday lives is sooo funny. Hear me laughing — ha. ha. 

Rather than pushing the envelope of funny with dark and questionable memes, be mindful of what messages are conveyed, as they can normalize the trivialization of hard subject matters. Remember that there are real people who deal with these troubling issues and the fall out that comes from that trauma. Think twice before clicking “generate meme.”