Tell Harvard U. That a Private Meme Chats is No Reason Ban 10 Students

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In light of recent events at Harvard University, it is time that we finally bring to light the nature of the new online phenomena known as "memes".

In a statement made by the University, it was found that a group of incoming students who met on the Freshman Class of 2021 page decided to form a private meme-sharing group chat as a way to communicate and get to know their fellow classmates. What ended up happening was that a hand full of these students, who felt comfortable enough with each other to form their own smaller chat, began to share images and jokes that, upon being leaked from the private chat to the University, were deemed as valid grounds for revoking the admission of 10 students in light of the memes that they shared.

As with many memes on the internet, the content that the images focused on were of very hot button and offensive issues. Any person who has seen the growth and development of this online social phenomena can tell you that chats like this are abundant, and in fact many people under the age of 25 are in one if not more of these chats and groups themselves.

What the incident at hand demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding between both the administrators of the University and older generations who have not been raised into the internet, and a younger generation of people who have become so desensitized to these offensive images online that we have learned to only take them at their face value: as funny memes. 

If there is one thing that these older generations need to know in order to understand this situation, it is this:

Memes that are shared for the intention of humor between friends and colleagues are not about making personal statements. They are about accepting and sharing our deepest and darkest senses of humor that lie within all of us, and creating a place where we can all share them in private with the knowledge that none of us are taking them too seriously.

These messages were never supposed to see the light of day other than within these groups and between these friends, but somebody leaked these private messages to the public without their knowledge. Because of this, Harvard has decided that any message, no matter how personal, is subject to their approval if it is in anyway related to their school.

Memes, like emojis, are what linguistic anthropologists refer to as logographic language, where people are able to communicate complex emotions and messages through visual imagery to express ourselves in ways that written language simply cannot. Memes in a broader sense serve an important social grounds for us as a platform for people to communicate in a private and faceless manner that allows us to express ourselves in ways that detach us from our in-person selves and in a way that gives us the freedom to joke around as we like, and that means that we will express this though humor, and more often than not this means that we are going to do this in a way that is both offensive and dark, and we as people have to get over the fact that this is how we are.

Humor has always been offensive, and it is purest when it is shared between closed friends. But now, according to Harvard, all of our most private and personal conversations on the internet are to be considered viable grounds to judge people for their admission.

I said it before and I will say it again: These messages were never supposed to see the light of day other than within these groups and between these friends, but because somebody leaked these private messages to the public, Harvard has decided that any message, no matter how personal, is subject to their approval if it is in anyway related to their school.

Though this reality is not widely talked about amongst younger generations, it is acknowledged by many people of our age that memes are to never be taken seriously and that no meme intended for humor should ever been tied to someones personal beliefs.

This may sound like a ridiculous topic to be debating, but it is because of this significant social and cultural misunderstanding are ten incoming Harvard students have now been stripped of their chances at attending the college of their choice because someone leaked their most personal and private humor out to the internet.

Anyone who says that dark and graphic humor is immoral is denying the very psychological and social implications of humor: to create a sense of shock and disbelief that leads to us finding enjoyment in these kinds of jokes.

Yes, these incoming students included the name of Harvard in the name of their group chat because it was the only thing besides their humor that they all had in common with each other, but for the school to use this as an excuse to ruin these kids academic careers for the time being is both immoral and unjust. 

I think George Carlin says it best.

"There is nothing wrong with those words in and of themselves, they're only words, it's the context that counts. It's the user that makes the words good or bad, the words are completely neutral, the words are innocent."