By Mitch Cohen
There’s no denying that 2020 was a difficult year. With a pandemic overtaking the world, it became difficult to find peace during this uncertain time. Fortunately, memes functioned as an essential distraction.
In the early days of the pandemic, TikTok emerged as one of the biggest platforms for memes. TikTok allows users to create short videos to share across the internet. Since March 2020, the rise of this App has been astronomical. According to backlingo.com, TikTok gained 115.2 million installs in March 2020 alone.
Personally, while I found TikTok to be cringe-inducing because of the obnoxious trends, many people used it to escape from the grim situation.
“TikTok helped everyone relax more and helped distract them from the scary things outside,” said Russeau Francois, a first-year computer science major.
Francois said he believes that the best type of memes satirized the pandemic itself. A prime example being the “my plans” meme. This meme shows someone preparing to have fun, only for 2020 to ruin it.
Back when I was in middle school, one of my favorite things to do in the morning was to watch Vine compilations. Vine was similar to TikTok, as it allowed people to make six-second videos. These videos were then put into compilations to be viewed on YouTube. I bring up Vine because nostalgic throwbacks from the past were at an all-time high last year.
Jake Mann, a junior psychology major, said that one of his favorite throwback Vines to watch during the pandemic was the “look at all those chickens” meme. Mann said that memes “... kept me laughing, which kept me hopeful.”
Mann said he also enjoyed watching inspirational content such as Paige Layle, a TikTok star who uses her platform to discuss autism, a disorder that she lives with. As of today, Layle has 2.6 million followers on TikTok and she continues to encourage people to keep moving forward during difficult times.
For many, it was hard to be optimistic through the pandemic. Everywhere you looked, the news was incredibly depressing. Thankfully, memes helped millennials during this difficult time.
Emily Encalada, a junior nursing student, said she felt like memes allowed her to escape the harsh reality of the world. “It can be a stress reliever due to the funny content,” she said.
One of her favorite memes to view was “This is Fine,'' which depicts a dog sitting in a burning room saying, “everything is fine.” Even though this meme came out in 2013, it holds relevance in today’s society because people are trying to live normally, despite political turmoil and an ongoing health crisis.
The world would not be the same without memes. These distractions helped people feel uplifted and happy. While some may find memes immature, many millennials credit these viral distractions as a savior of sanity during the Covid-19 pandemic.