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Why Are There So Many Dad Memes?

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A Sunday on June is fathers day in the US and we know because we’ve all been victims of the “happy fathers day meme.” The happy fathers day meme or dad memes to be specific is a middle aged, out of touch person with a severe lack of awareness or personal style. Making fun of Dad isn’t really new — Danny Tanner was often the punch line of the jokes on Full House two decades ago — but it’s everywhere you look today.

Instead of being taken seriously this happy fathers day meme is all about bad, embarrassing jokes; socks with sandals; and unironic use of a fanny pack. Many of the characteristics that make someone good at being a parent — frugality, responsibility, selflessness — have become punch lines for an entire generation when it comes to talking about dad.


What is the “dadjoke”?

The dadjoke (which can be deployed effectively by anyone, not just dads) is an inoffensive, often groan-inducing, pun-laden observation that’s less funny as a joke itself, but amusing in its existence. Telling dadjokes is often a self-deprecating move that’s both endearing and self-embarrassing. It’s admitting (often in a tongue-in-cheek way) that you’re out of touch, but without being mean-spirited. Dadjokes can make a fatherly figure less intimidating while having a little fun at the same time.

The dadjoke may be inoffensive and patronizing, but beneath the surface it reads as the manifestation of an underlying fear carried by an entire generation. For the millennial (or snake people, if you will) generation, it feels like the fear of becoming our parents.

Your intentions may be harmless whilst making fun of your dad but it’s often laced with cynicism. Youth has been the center of our modern culture for decades, but millennials have been fighting growing up and getting old with fervent abandon. You can see that in the numbers of people in their mid–20s that still live at home with their parents (including, yes, Dad, which provides ample material for making fun of him), or the average ages when people get married and have children, which are higher than they’ve ever been.

If your way of a little laugh is by making fun of your dad about crummy employment opportunities or lousy housing market manifests itself in memes that make fun of Dad, that’s far from the worst that could happen. We are, all of us, saying "Oh Dad, You" as a way of accepting that keeping up with the latest trends is becoming increasingly impossible and that’s ok. No matter how hard we might fight it, eventually everyone does get old, grows up, and no longer lives at home with their parents.

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