When University freshmen Jack Hunter and Darin Shelstad created a Facebook page late Wednesday night to share inside jokes, they never expected it would become so popular.
But it did. Overnight. Literally.
With over 2,500 likes in one day, “University of Oregon Memes” allows anyone to upload images lampooning college life at the University. The images, called “memes,” have become a widespread internet phenomenon — and Hunter and Shelstad have localized the craze.
“It’s basically an inside joke,” Hunter says. “They’re hard to describe.”
The meme-making duo got the idea for the page after several of their dorm-mates began making memes and sharing them on the McClure residence hall’s Facebook page. They decided to share the fun of creating and swapping memes with the rest of the University community. Shelstad says the response has been a surprise. He estimates that a person likes the page every minute.
“People have been saying they can’t study cause they’re too busy on the page,” Shelstad says.
The memes poke fun at everything from Frog — the infamous joke book salesman who occupies the front of the Duck Store — to freshman stereotypes.
“We’re just trying to make everyone laugh and get everyone together. We can all relate to every (meme) on that page,” Shelstad says. “It’s a way to get your jokes out and everyone can see how funny your inside joke to your friend was.”
The most popular meme features the Sheltered College Freshman character and the caption reads: “Tells everyone she’s from Portland. From Lake Oswego.”
Freshman Greg Keating, who has created a number of memes on the page, has even used memes to heal broken relationships.
“I might send them a meme to maybe lighten the mood,” he says. There is really an art to meme-making, Keating says. The punchline has to be perfect.
“The picture and the words have a very close relationship,” he says.
Having 2,500 University students sharing their opinions in one forum doesn’t always go right. Commenting wars have broken out over sports teams and fraternities. Others have been upset about the contents of some of the memes. The creators dislike that aspect of the page.
“We don’t want people to get mad at each other,” co-creator Hunter says. “We need to make light of a situation here.”
Others comment about the addictive nature of the site.
“This page is going to kill my GPA,” one Facebooker wrote.
The nearly 300 memes that have been posted are making the campus more connected and helping document the University’s culture, the creators say. They look up to the people who create viral videos and pictures — but those people are never anyone they know.
“You just connect on a more person level because you know the people who are making them and it’s not just some random username,” Shelstad says.
The two stress that everyone should participate but they must be careful to follow the rules of meme-making. If it’s wrong, it’s just not funny.
“It would be like going to a stand-up comedian and he just tells jokes the wrong way,” Shelstad says.
For Shelstad and Hunter, sharing laughs is the best part and they want as many people as possible to join them. How many likes is enough?
“A million likes. That’s the ultimate goal,” Shelstad jokes.