What Dank Memes, Drinking Games, and “Donald Tramp” Tell Us about the State of Politics
by Noelle Mandell
Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in the history of our country. Right now we’re in the prime of our youth—the years where we’re the most attractive we’ll ever be, having the most fun we’ll ever have, and likely the most passionate about our ideologies that we’ll ever feel.
A single catalyst is all it takes to nudge your life down a given path. I’ve experienced this personally, and witness it happening to others all the time. Emerging adulthood is a pivotal and impressionable age. As freshman in college, we seek out communities to be a part of while breaking away from the comforts of our childhood circumstances. Many of us stick with those communities throughout college, and even into our real adult lives. We find new homes and new identities, by participating in things like Greek life, sports teams, and political activism. We tap in to our special interests and hobbies, meet lots of interesting people, and open our minds to new ideas. We grow interested in learning about the world, and in coming to a deeper understanding of it.
I empathize with students who become active on their campuses, then find themselves growing passionate about new, exciting ideas. In my case, it was Ron Paul’s brand of political philosophy, as well as a swelling antiwar sentiment, that got me fired up. For lots of my friends, it was Barack Obama, and more recently Rand Paul, or Bernie Sanders who first sparked their excitement. Many of us are galvanized not by a person, but a cause, such as legalizing marijuana, liberating minority groups, or fixing the education system. Some of us even assume a responsibility to do everything we can to to motivate others to vote for the candidate who we believe embodies our ideals. As we strive to make a difference and effect meaningful change, we come to feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.
Reality hits us hard when our revolutionary candidate loses (or worse, wins and doesn’t live up to their promises), or our city accepts a transphobic ordinance, or our crucial petition doesn’t even get enough signatures to make it on a ballot. We don’t understand why so many people don’t see the terrible injustices caused by the political system, or why people turn a blind eye to the repulsiveness of the criminal justice system, or how we’re even supposed to deal in this economy!
When you pour your heart into a cause and the outcome isn’t what you hoped for, you’re likely to go through the stages of grief that every passionate activist encounters sooner or later. While these feelings aren’t necessarily unique to our generation—as we’ve seen incarnations of radical advocates for various causes throughout time—the way that millennials cope is.
Millennials do a great job of channeling our feelings of political disappointment while also contributing to social change and knowledge sharing. My Facebook feed is filled with articles and memes about candidates and issues, as well as accompanying commentary.
When I feel like lamenting about the current presidential front runners, I scroll down and see my friend Kris gone viral as “Donald Tramp,” gallivanting around campus at Texas State and “Making Short Shorts Great Again.”
meanwhile at Texas state “Donald tramp” makes an appearance #TXST
Posted by BOY CHAD on Wednesday, February 10, 2016
I can rely on getting hilarious snaps from friends during the State of the Union.
Whenever there’s a debate, I know my friends will have some clever drinking game to make it really fun. A good friend of mine and fellow TMI leader, Cody Alejandro, said it best last semester in an interview: “The presidential debates are a joke to my generation,” Alejandro said. “We turn them into drinking games to cope with the fact that we’re screwed.”
There’s a conspiratorial rumor started by a millennial in Texas that has spread like wildfire; it asserts that a certain presidential candidate is, in fact, an infamous serial killer. It’s gained so much traction that large groups of people think it’s plausible, and there’s shirts available for people who think it’s hilarious that fund a local cause.
I’m even a part of a burgeoning Facebook group that has me in stitches on a regular basis and keeping me culturally relevant. Recently, while scrolling through, I learned the difference between a plug and a gauge (piercings) thanks to a dank meme that was circulating from “the stash.”
These kinds of things not only serve as a platform for sharing ideas and changing culture, they also help us cope when we are feeling the most desolation. Spoofing, trolling, and memeing are only some of the fun ways you can remain sane, feel catharsis, engage new people, and be reminded not to take yourself so seriously. You’d also be surprised about what you can learn in the process and how effectively you can communicate your ideas through these types of venues. As I mentioned earlier, the reason a lot of us get involved in this “political” scene is to find community and make a difference. Life is ripe with such opportunities, so seize them. But when you’re immersed and start to feel down due to politics these days, try to remember to have some fun. Contribute what you’d like to see in the world: whip up a good caption for the most recent gif that’s circulating, outline the consequences for a debate watch party when you hear a red herring, pick a Facebook group or page and marvel secretly with friends at the posts they’re making, or a pick a different route. You’ll not only be happier, you’ll be helping to make the world a better place, one satirical step at a time.