Let’s take memes out of the lecture hall.
Meme Courtesy of Gavin Steven
Recently, I was shocked to realise that I am no longer one of “the kids”. Until not too long ago (a year, two? Perhaps the moment I left high school?) I had gleefully indulged in whatever youth trend The Sun had whipped its readers into a frenzy over. I nearly choked attempting the cinnamon challenge, played enough Call of Duty to be better trained than most foreign terrorist organisations, and risked my life on multiple planking photoshoots. Yet, today I know of nobody who plays Fortnite and have never seen a JUUL in the flesh. But, with my old age comes perspective. I am perfectly content in the knowledge that I’ll never buy a Zoella calendar, or attend Vidcon. I need not research the current Jake Paul scandal, or try and keep up with DJ Keemstar’s drama alerts.
I have aged out of teen culture and am trying to do so gracefully. Why, then, do my middle-aged tutors feel the need to shoehorn memes into my 9am lectures?
Memes are perhaps the biggest constant in the culture of the internet generation. Apparently, we can’t get enough of them. There are memes for every job, interest and sexual penchant under the sun. I’m force-fed memes by my Facebook wall, my television screen, and from creepy twitter personifications of global corporations. I feel a connection to the intern running the Denny’s twitter account, yet I find Taco Bell’s equivalent annoying. I have never set foot in either restaurant. From enforced osmosis, I have become something of a meme connoisseur. Through no fault of my own, I have developed an acute sense for an off-tone meme or a stale image macro. A tutor naively captioning a mocking Spongebob with LOLcats diction is enough to break my concentration. A rage comic rearing its ugly head would be enough to make me get up and leave.
I don’t blame the tutors.
We are undoubtedly the most disengaged set of students to ever pass through the University of Aberdeen’s hallowed grounds.
On the regular, we sit through classes without once looking up from our laptop screen. I can count on my fingers the number of lectures in which I have managed to stop myself from taking a sneaky peak at twitter. The worst part? For all our half-hearted stealth, the tutors know the moment we lose concentration. They can tell when note-taking turns into a messenger discussion on the evergreen topic of alcohol consumption then a cheeky game of Miniclip pool.
So they get desperate; turn to guerrilla tactics.
Teacher training now commonly recommends using memes in the classroom.
Apparently, they increase student concentration. Sticking a semi-relevant image macro on a PowerPoint slide is quickly becoming the norm. But in late 2018, it was heavily reported that an American high school teacher now grades her students with memes. One senior was awarded a Gordon Ramsay captioned “Good Job, You Get A Gold Star Today” for a perfect score on a quiz. It is only a matter of time before copycat crimes begin popping up. Personally, I hope to achieve a “Pee Is Stored in the Balls” for my degree classification, but will settle for a “Big Chungus”.
Perhaps you think this is pedantic. Perhaps you think that, however misguided, your tutor making an effort to relate to you is admirable. But we simply see enough memes already. I get them served up to me by algorithms that know my every move, text message and late-night incognito search. Semi-informed tutors can’t hold a candle to the machine. Memes also do anything to improve my concentration in a lecture. More often than not, a meme takes me out of the lecture for wondering what thought process went into thinking such an ill-considered joke was a good idea. And at the end of the day, as university students, tutors shouldn’t have to debase themselves like this for our attention. If we want to not concentrate and risk a bad grade, then so be it. Tutors: I beg of you, please stop with the memes.