Side by Side

After playing on the MVHS boys tennis team for three years, senior Kevin Tan decided to join the badminton team instead. As a new member, Tan noticed the differences between the two teams in terms of gender.
Of the 23 sports teams at MVHS, there are only six coed teams: badminton, track and field, cross country, wrestling, swimming and diving. Since these teams have no gender barriers, they are usually much larger.
“It’s just very different game style [in badminton] because especially when I’m observing the top players, the guys are usually hitting a lot bigger while with girls, it’s a lot more tactics … and the right strategy,” Tan said. “With some guys that I know it’s mostly brute strength and just trying to overpower the other player.”
Although Tan enjoyed his experience on a coed team more, senior Sina Faridnia enjoyed his experience more on a single gender boys water polo team. When he joined the varsity boys water polo team freshman year, Faridnia wasn’t familiar with the other players.
“Once I got in the pool, I made some really nice passes,” Faridnia said. “They kinda respected me more after that … You kind of create a [brotherhood] with your teammates and you become really close friends.”
Faridnia believes rather than gender, the teamwork and constant interaction with his teammates helped them become close.
“Just the fact that we were able to play a team sport and we were able to connect in that way helped us,” Faridnia said. “Maybe if there was a girl on the team the same thing would have happened.”
Faridnia is also a part of the MVHS swimming team. Like many coed teams, swimming is mostly an individual sport. Compared to the team-centered water polo practices, Faridnia feels this individual-focused practice doesn’t allow the team to develop deep connections. Aside from brief banter with fellow relay members, he finds athletes just don’t interact enough to make those same deep connections.
Junior Jessica Ji, a member of both track and field and the MVHS girls basketball team, agrees with Faridnia. She feels that gender does not play a significant role in the team dynamic; rather, she feels that the nature of each sport makes a bigger difference.
The size of the teams is also a factor; while her basketball team only has 10 players on it, the track and field team has around 134. Because of this size difference, Ji explains that the bonds created while playing aren’t the same, regardless of gender. Ji also feels that playing with another gender is a motivating factor for her to improve.
“It pushes me to work harder because I see other people being successful at the events that I’m doing,” Ji said. “There’s no negative feelings. Everyone cheers each other on, so it’s a very positive community.”
Similar to Ji, senior Eesha Golap, a member of the MVHS badminton team, feels that playing alongside another gender has helped her gain more opportunities in matches. Before this year, Golap only played singles against another girl, but this year, she plays mixed doubles.
“I like coed sports better because there’s more opportunity,” Golap said. “Like if a guy’s better than you, you can play with the guy and get better. For a guy, if a girl’s better than the guy, he can play with the girl.”
Senior Patrick Kan also plays mixed doubles and believes the mix of genders can help freshmen making the transition from middle school.
“For our freshmen who maybe didn’t have as much interaction with the opposite gender in middle school, it really gives them a chance to talk to them and socialize,” Kan says.
However, Faridnia does find that the addition of multiple genders means some students don’t feel as free to be themselves.
“[In] water polo it’s just guys so you can do really goofy things in the locker room or outside that you can’t really do during swimming with girls around,” Faridnia said. “You don’t let yourself be yourself 100 percent because we try to impress the girls or whatever. But during water polo you can just be yourself 100 percent. You don’t have to worry about anyone judging you or anything like that since you’re among like close friends and kind of like your brothers, you know.”
Tan acknowledges this difference because, when he used to be on the tennis team, he felt that some boys seemed to have the mindset that they could act and play differently when only boys were present.
“When you’re doing something really competitive, if you’re cooperating with another gender, it kind of controls you I guess and it just helps you become a better person in general, especially in sports, so I find that [is] a huge benefit.”

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Up the ranks

After a close loss to Fremont HS, MVHS girls soccer coach Jose Vargas pulled out his phone to read a message from the FHS coach.

“The Fremont coach ended up texting our coach and saying ‘You guys were a very good team and you guys have grown a lot over the past few years,’” senior captain Srinidhi Balaraman said.

The MVHS girls soccer team has, in years past, not had much competitive success. They only won one game last season. But this year, the team appears to have turned themselves around. The team finished the season close to the top of the table with a record of 6-3-3. With a winning record for the first time in seven years, they finished third in league, with only Fremont HS and Gunn HS ahead of them.

As senior Mansi Reddy explains, the team wasn’t taken very seriously by the players themselves or the opposition.

“Freshman year, I went into it knowing that [MVHS] soccer was a joke,” Reddy said. “My parents never even showed up.”

This year’s team, with a second year coach and plenty of underclassmen talent, has managed to greatly exceed expectations. In the classic underdog story, the girls team overcame their past reputation to shock many of the traditional powerhouses of the league, including Milpitas HS and FHS.

The start of the team’s season took many opponents by surprise, as they were much better than expected. Teams like FHS that, in the past, were used to beating MVHS by sometimes three or even four goals, found themselves struggling to score even once.

“When we played Lynbrook [HS], we overheard players saying that ‘Oh we have to beat [MVHS], they’re not the good team,’” Balaraman said. “I would say it’s advantageous because people don’t expect you to be as good as you are, so we came in and showed them and we beat them.”

As the season went on and as the team played more opponents, its “joke” status was long gone. According to junior Mythili Ketavarapu, teams began to take them much more seriously and began to respect their skill.

“It makes it harder the second time we play teams because we play every team twice,” Ketavarapu said. “Because then the second time [we play them] they’re like ‘Oh we underestimated them last time, but not a second time.’”

With slim CCS contention in its last two games, the team tied Cupertino HS 0-0 and beat Wilcox HS 4-0 on senior night. However, this was not enough to secure a CCS spot. The team would have needed to pass Gunn HS and reach second place to have a chance to make it. Even with this slight disappointment, however, players like Reddy still view the season positively.

“I think we have proven our playing level as a team,” Reddy said. “We shouldn’t be seen a joke as we have been in the previous years and I hope this year will … give MVHS a new name in terms of girls soccer.”

Superfan

Many MVHS students enjoy professional sports, but for some, this love extends beyond lunchtime debates and quick checks of the Bleacher Report app between classes. These devoted fans show their love in different ways, from watching every single game of the season to traveling to another state to watch their team play in their home stadium. For these so-called “superfans,” their dedication to a team has had a profound impact on their life, from instilling character values to helping them de-stress.

CONSISTENT EFFORT

Senior Manav Shah has been a Patriots fan for years. According to Shah the Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick, doesn’t hesitate to bench star players if they’re playing badly and plays rookies even in crucial games.

“I think that’s what makes everybody work super hard since it doesn’t matter if you’re a 10-year veteran or you’re a rookie,” Shah said. “You’re going to have to play your best every game, otherwise he’ll sit you.”

Shah tries to replicate that effort in his own life as a soccer player. He remembers being completely out of shape and jetlagged after a trip to India.

He wasn’t expecting to play. But after one of the team’s other left wing backs broke his foot, Shah had to step in.

“Obviously I wasn’t in shape [or] anything, but I just had to keep pushing myself, and eventually we tied the game 2-2 and that was enough points to get us into the next round,” Shah said.

At the end of the day, being a football fan is about watching games. For Shah, the dedication his Pats has to playing good football is fun to watch.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the country,” Shah said. “You can follow them and then you’ll see that [you] just fall in love with the way they play and the amount of effort they put into football.”

SMALL PLEASURES

Senior Anita Narkhede’s love for the Golden State Warriors started at her club volleyball tournaments, when parents would always discuss the previous nights’ Warriors games. Catching her interest, she started watching the Warriors as well and quickly got hooked.

“It’s mostly because they play with a lot of joy,” Narkhede said. “I like how it’s a fast-paced game, but also when they’re playing, they’re always smiling, they’re always laughing, they’re always having a lot of fun.”

Compared to other NBA teams who she feels can be “too serious” at times, Narkhede feels that the Warriors have found a good balance between work and fun, one that she strives to find in her own life. Narkhede tries to look for small joys in her life rather than getting too caught up in all the work she has to do.

Unlike others, who Narkhede says worry about their future job prospects after one bad grade, she tries not to sweat over the small stuff.

“‘Oh, you had one bad day, but it won’t make a huge difference in your life,’” Narkhede said. “If you pay attention to the little things which give you joy, then it’ll have a bigger impact on your happiness.”

LOYALTY

Social science teacher Scott Victorine is unsure where his love for the Minnesota Vikings came from. As a first grader watching football for the first time, Victorine fell in love with the purple and gold.

According to Victorine, being a Vikings fan isn’t easy. Although they are currently ranked first in the NFC North division, the team has never won a Super Bowl, and hasn’t been to the Super Bowl in 41 years.

While he would like his team to win, he feels that loyalty is much more important.

“It was just important to stick with your team, cause it’s kind of like life,” Victorine said. “There’ll be ups and downs, but you don’t get to pick when they’re up and when you’re down.”

He sees this loyalty as a character trait that helps him support his friends and family. About a year and a half ago, a friend of Victorine’s went through a divorce, and he saw helping his friend through rough patches as a part of his responsibility.

“It’s not always the most uplifting conversation. But it’s important that, as a friend, I’m there, to make sure he feels supported and that ultimately, he doesn’t get too rough,” Victorine said.

Even if he doesn’t solve every problem, he feels it’s important just to be there with his friends.

As Victorine says, it’s “sticking with people when times are not only good, but [when] times are tough.”

In the same boat: Sophomore Revan Aponso inherits his love for rowing

Sophomore Revan Aponso wakes up at 4:15 a.m. every Monday. He needs to be at the Redwood City Port by 5 a.m. When he arrives, he grabs a boat and fixes LED lights onto the boat – it’s still dark out. The crew rows for an hour, sometimes as far as twelve kilometers, and carries the boats back in, washes them and ties them up. By this time it’s 7 a.m. and Revan has to leave for school.

Revan is one of few MVHS athletes who participates in rowing. After playing both baseball and basketball, sports that he felt require athletes to start at a young age, Revan wanted a sport he could pick up later in life. His dad, who used to row, encouraged Revan to join the sport. Even though he began last year, he was able to transition pretty quickly since his teammates had similar levels of experience.

“It’s easier for you to keep up with your teammates and the other people in your club or league,” Revan said.

Revan soon realized that rowing was perfect for him. Unlike most sports, he was able to practice without feeling pressure from experienced athletes. Revan also liked the full body workout that rowing provided, without applying excessive stress on his body and causing any serious injuries.

As a high school junior in Sri Lanka, Revan’s father, Bimal Aponso, got into rowing through a friend. He rowed through high school, and started up again a couple of years ago. Bimal no longer races, although he still rows recreationally.

“Rowing is the ultimate team sport,” Bimal said.  “If everyone in the boat does not row in perfect synchrony you expend a lot of energy and get nowhere.”

Revan’s coach, Lynn Gardner, echoed this sentiment.

“Everybody has to be totally in sync, and everybody has to be able to depend on the other people in the boat,” Gardner said. “You want to know that everybody is giving a hundred percent just like you.”

Despite all the appealing aspects of rowing, Revan admits his passion  for the sport didn’t develop immediately.

“It was a growing-in period,” Revan said. “At the beginning, I remember getting up at four in the morning and [thinking to myself], ‘Wait, why am I doing this? Is it even worth it?’”

Revan cleans up after tying the team’s boat up at the dock. The team has to rinse off the boats after every practice, to prevent salt water from corroding the hulls.
Revan cleans up after tying the team’s boat up at the dock. The team has to rinse off the boats after every practice, to prevent salt water from corroding the hulls. Photo by Sannidhi Menon

Now, he has learned to love the sport, even if waking up early is still challenging. As a varsity rower, Revan has practices three times a week on the water: Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Weekday practices usually start at 5:00 a.m., while practices on Saturdays start at 6:00 a.m. In addition to practices on the water, the team meets in its coach’s garage twice a week and practices on rowing machines, or ergs, as the crew calls them.

Every few months, Revan competes in regattas, or rowing competitions, with his team. Local regattas usually take place in Oakland or San Francisco on weekends and involve parents, coaches and rowers. Although regattas usually last the whole day, Revan states that for most of the time, he is not rowing.

“A regatta is a huge team effort,” Revan said. “Most of the time is down-time between races so it’s a great way to get to know your teammates and bond with [them] and your coaches.”

Through rowing, Revan has built strong relationships with people in his community that he wouldn’t have met otherwise, and his coach has seen him grow tremendously.

“Personality wise, he’s become more confident,” Gardner said. “He interacts with everybody a lot more – it’s kinda pulled him out of his shell.”

And on top of his personal growth, the hard work and discipline that rowing has taught Revan make him want to pursue the sport through high school and college. Experience is no limiting factor in the sport; everyone is in the same boat.

Originally published in print magazine El Estoque Oct. issue

Beyond the magazine: One kill after another

When the junior boys volleyball team is hosting a game, the varsity team is already on the court preparing for its own match. Each player has their own miniature routine to follow before each match.

Across the court is senior captain Prathik Rao, who shoots hoops almost an hour earlier than when he’s supposed to be in the gym. There’s no pattern to his attempts, but there’s a volleyball where a basketball should be at the very least.

Junior captain Jason Shen joins him a few minutes later, and indulges in his club volleyball team’s traditional warm-up. Yoga. Their routine is a result of years of practice and experience, and stands in stark contrast to the sophomores who join their captains before their upcoming game.

The sophomores seem to wander around aimlessly before the game begins, but when head coach Paul Chiu calls for the varsity team to warm-up they join their focused captains and become one unit among three different classes of MVHS students. By the time they finally take to the court at 6:45 p.m, this team has the mindset of the MVHS volleyball team that stormed the league four years ago.

MVHS boys volleyball has made it a habit to dominate opponents. They have taken to the court for 87 sets in the regular season, in both tournament play and match play, and have come off the court with only 15 dropped sets. It’s too late for their opponents to deny these athletes a chance to compete in the postseason. But this isn’t a one season surprise. This year’s team has been built around the class of 2019, and even though they might be the youngest varsity team MVHS boys volleyball has ever had, they’re still in the top of their league.

Sophomore Sensations

They’ve given us a shot – with the seniors and the entire team and [the] entire program in general – ” senior Yash Hegde said.

Adarsh Pachori. Gautham Dasari. Kevin Mathew. Nikhil Bapat. Rajas Habbu. Apoorv Pachori. When they enter the gym before their game, they don’t have a set routine. They are the six sophomores on the varsity team. They can be found line-judging, working the scoring table or idling on their phones until Chiu tells them to begin warming up.  Despite joining this team relatively recently, when they’re on the court they can hold their own.

“Our sophomores are also a strong part of that core. We’ve had no choice but to surround ourselves with the sophomores,” Hegde said. “They’ve been an integral part in making our team whole and basically effective this entire season.”

Dasari played for Chiu last year as well, and with top prospects like class of 2016 alumnus Alex Li gone, he’s stepped up his game the moment last year’s season ended.

“I feel that now, [the upperclassmen] have been working so hard, that when I’m playing with them it makes me want to work a lot harder,” Dasari said. “Watching Jason and Tiki like hit the floor for every single ball, I’ve also kind of developed that mindset where you shouldn’t let anything drop.”

MVHS was the number two seed heading into the postseason CCS tournament, and it seems as though these sophomores didn’t have much difficulty adapting to a varsity playbook. Some of these players will compete at a varsity level for four years, and are already seeing results from adding younger players to their roster.

Tearing the League Apart

The team is poised to finish what they couldn’t win last year. The mantra of the previous three years still holds true today: win leagues, win CCS, win NorCals. Despite losing the talented senior crop, they’ve made up for it with a work ethic bordering on obsessive according to assistant varsity coach Calvin Wong.

“This year it’s a smarter and quicker run defense, so we actually just played defense better, and then we have learned to pick and choose on how we get kills compared [to] like hitting off of people’s hands, off the block, maybe tipping it to an empty area,” Wong said. “[Basically, not] going for the big flashy play of a big hit where we had that luxury last year with [Li].”

Last year the team chose to primarily rely on skill instead of hustle. This year’s team has had to focus and create a more enthusiastic defense in its place. Despite not being able to overpower opponents anymore, they’ve become one of the most dominating teams in the league when it comes to defending the ball.

Defense is the end-game for MVHS. Some games when their defense falls through, their lack of an offense becomes glaringly apparent. But in their 3-0 victories throughout the season, the defense helps the team generates the momentum to create the rhythm to prop up their offense.

“[Rao] and [Shen] are two of the best defensive players in our league, perhaps even in CCS, that have really been the cornerstone for our team and the foundation that we have built our program upon as of right now,” Dasari said. “That defensive mindset really comes from them.”

Head coach Paul Chiu notched his 200th career victory on April 6, and was also CCS boys volleyball coach of the year thanks to the success of the MVHS boys volleyball varsity team.

“One thing that we can see on the Monta Vista boys volleyball team this year is their team chemistry. They like playing with each other,” Wong said. “They might not necessarily all hang out in the same circles at school, but they enjoy putting in the work and the time together, which shows on the court with their hustle plays.”

Originally published at ElEstoque.org

Made of Memes

If you’re reading this, memes are dead. Because we, as a news organization, are doing the inexcusable: we are writing a news story on them. And according to Class of 2016 alumnus Zarek Peris, a meme that has been in the news is a meme already in its grave. Like a joke that has to be explained, a deconstructed meme is counterintuitive, because it’s fundamentally based upon its ability to relate with individual experiences.

The way we express our humor in the modern day has evolved. While we still do love telling cheesy jokes with slapstick punchlines or planning out elaborate pranks, memes have annexed the otherwise uncharted territory of internet humor.

So here is a toast to memes — those indescribable, indestructible, soon-to-fade-from-the-collective-internet-conscience Bibles of pop culture. Pantheons of that peculiar brand of online humor, they stand testament to the fast-paced brilliance of the internet.

Defining a meme

The term meme first appeared in “The Selfish Gene”, a book in which author Richard Dawkins explores evolution. Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, stated in the book that the key to understanding life is not by looking at “gels and oozes,” but by looking at information technology.

He proposed that the evolution of life is centered around replicators, machines that continuously churn out content. The human brain began as the main replicator, allowing it to repeatedly churn out ideas through books, music or art. But now a new replicator has emerged, and while Dawkins still believes the idea itself has yet to fully develop, this replicator was famously termed, by Dawkins, as “the meme.”

Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation,” Dawkins wrote. “They compete with one another for limited resources: brain time or bandwidth. They compete most of all for attention.”

Memes, according to Dawkins, are ideas and behaviors spread from person to person within a culture. On the internet, memes first appeared as a term across various forums and message boards as early as the late 1980s. But it wasn’t until 2011 when the popularity of memes exploded. According to Google Trends, during October of 2010, the term meme had only reached four percent of its peak popularity. By April 2012, that number had risen to 26 percent, and in the following years that number continued to grow

Peris defines memes as a joke contained to a single work. It can be practically anything: a text, a phrase, a picture — but it must remain individual and self-contained.

“When you see something repeated over and over especially on social media you become infused,” Peris said. “Like why do you like your music? Memes are a style of comedy, something that you listen to over and over again, and it’s something that used over and over again. When you’re on social media you inevitably will see them.”

“The reach of a meme is even broader than that of a traditional inside joke. It [hasn’t] exed out previous humor it’s just given a platform for it.” -Class of 2016 alumnus Zarek Peris

The first meme that Peris himself remembers seeing was the one that is colloquially known as the ‘bed intruder’ video. It sparked his love, and passion, for memes. His exposure was originally concentrated to the online message board Reddit, but eventually, the memes he saw started appearing on other social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And so Peris followed.

The humorous images, videos and text spawned discussion with his friends in his Drama class. And so, during the summer of 2015, Peris’ friend and Class of 2016 alumni Zach Sanchez, suggested that they make their own memes.

“[Sanchez] was really interested in graphic design, so naturally [while he was] creating images, we were talking about memes, [and the discussion] was all ‘we should start a page,’” Peris said. “[Sanchez] spearheaded it when we started the page.”

Peris made his first meme on a Windows Vista computer. He didn’t have Photoshop, so he used an alternative: Microsoft Paint.  It was the first of many memes he’d make.

And so, in the summer of 2015, after two friends banded together and decided to create their own memes, the Facebook page “Squidward de la Future: Chrome and avant-garde memes from the 3000” was born.

The page, which has reached over 50 likes, is an ongoing hobby for the two of them, and has expaded to include other page administrators. Unlike other meme pages, which Peris explains can be rehashes of already pre-made memes, most of Peris’ memes are original. His meme style, as he explains, is taking a common trend and warping its description to be slightly off.

“Like the [meme] I [posted] of Thomas Jefferson– the meme is on the slightly off,” Peris said. “I’ve taken a common trend– like absurdist comedy–and combined with the fact it’s an inside joke.”

Memes, according to Peris, have allowed humor to become more accessible, like one gigantic inside joke shared across large online communities. But while the internet has given humor a broader reach, it has also kept these jokes contained to their own niches of the internet, keeping an air of exclusivity.

“I mean it’s not really a choice that you have. It’s a side effect of being on your social media,” Peris said. “Once you get into meme culture, you’ll like follow a bunch of different pages or whatever platforms you use, because it’s all a cycle, right? As soon as a news source does an article on the meme it’s dead. Like that’s the end of this life cycle. Boom! Killed. The end. Got the sword. Got the axe.”  

THE ONE WHO’S OBSESSED

For many people memes are important tools of social interaction, they enjoy “tagging” their friends on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. For Sophomore Varshini Srikanthan her awareness of memes stemmed from the creation of her Facebook account two years ago.

“I just remember my friends would just keep tagging me in them and I’m like ‘Ok these are funny’,” said Srikanthan.

Now Srikanthan is often described by friends and classmates as obsessed with memes, something which she feels has made her and her friends’ sense of humor both darker and drier. But despite her love of memes Srikanthan finds that their humor can often be divise, sometimes taking the joke a step too far. 

“I think it kinda divides us into two types of people,” Srikanthan said, “Like people who are oversensitive and people who say whatever they want and make jokes about things that shouldn’t necessarily be talked about.”

She recalls an instance of seeing a Hitler meme online and that made her feel very unsettled and uncomfortable.

“It’s like you’re taking one step too far,”Srikanthan said “And to a point it’s kind of funny, but you see stuff like that, and you’re like ‘Whoa.’”

THE MEME WALL

It’s dubbed the “meme wall.” The eastern door of A111, its wooden frame plastered with creatively Photoshopped images, all stuck on with strips of clear scotch tape. The common subject of each meme is illuminated clearly under the bright fluorescent lights: history teacher Cody Owens’ face, Photoshopped and edited with the blocky white text and border characteristic of most memes.

It began as a simple prank. A quick search of “Cody Owens” on the MVHS website had brought up his picture. The next day saw the image blown up and printed out, seven copies to be exact, and pasted to the surfaces of his room. In the few minutes Owens had taken out of tutorial to go to the restroom, JV Football player Shakthi Elangovan had taped up the images to the walls. Then awhile later, after the JV team defeated Lynbrook, the first meme appeared, pasted to the door of his classroom without an explanation. From there it snowballed and soon not only the football players but Owens’ students as well were making their own memes.

Each photo used is taken either under his nose before class, during tutorial or taken from the picture published with the staff list on the MVHS website, before then being used to create a customized meme. The students do not attempt to hide their antics from their teacher, walking up to him during these breaks and taking photos as he watches in confusion.

“[Students will] just walk right up and I’d be like ‘what are you doing?’ and then suddenly their phone’s out and they just snap a photo [to use for the meme],” Owens said. “There’s one where I have a ‘Welcome to the Party’ poster, and they just replaced all the communist figures heads with my head. There can be bad ones out there, I’d be afraid to see those, but otherwise they are cool — they are something fun.”

While Owens is unsure why students are so comfortable with sharing the memes they make about him, he knows other teachers also have had memes made of them. He believes it’s the close relationships he has with his students and the football players that allows them to feel comfortable with making these kinds jokes with him Most of the memes were created when he began to build that foundation of trust between his football players throughout the season, trust that has allowed his students to be open with him about their antics.

“Sometimes I’d just turn around and see a student taping a meme to a door and that’s how that started,” Owens said. “They have one where I am sitting back in a chair and it says ‘Why am I a coach I could’ve been a model’? That one is probably my favorite.”

However, for his student Sidartha Murthy, the answer is clear.

“[Owens] seems really approachable and I feel like a lot of teachers almost feel like omnipotent beings, but Mr. Owens seems really down-to-earth — someone you could talk to,” Murthy said. “We come in here, he has the March Madness games on, we play X-box, 2k, but then we also come into class and we also learn a lot and we do really well in this class so it’s a good balance between learning and fun.”

And for sophomore Rithvik Madhdhipatla, Owen’s approachability combined with his nature to say quoteworthy tidbits is exactly why Owen’s makes a perfect target for their memes.

“He says a lot of funny stuff during class — we pretty much use whatever he says against him,” Madhdhipatla said. “They’re mostly something that happened in class, something he teaches. He did a whole lesson on government surveillance and how we’re becoming like a dictatorship, and that’s [when we started] NSA memes and Illuminati memes. He’s a conspiracy theorist.”

Peris explains that it’s these communal trends and inside jokes which make memes work. The current, repeated ideas were produced by those who are and who want to be “in” on the inside joke.  

“It’s like an inside joke, so you want to follow a common trend that people know,” Peris said. “Whenever you post a meme it’s gotta be something that’s current and trendy that you see within the community, that you see other people posting.”

And while memes are commonly expressed through social media’s viral nature, it hasn’t replaced older expressions of humor. Instead, it’s become an enhancement.

In fact, for Peris, memes are a form of expression that make the world more connected than it was before. Their low barriers to understanding, infectious nature on social media and the explosion of online pop culture have allowed for them to take such prominence online.

“You have people that have difficulties in social situations always on these online communities. You have people that are completely comfortable with social situations also on these online communities,” Zarek said. “The reach of a meme is even broader than that of a traditional inside joke. It [hasn’t] exed out previous humor it’s just given a platform for it.”

 

Originally published on pg. 22- 27 of El Estoque’s April 2017 print edition