Santa Clara Social Media Accounts Go Viral
Facebook, Twitter accounts mirror national trends
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012 13:02
Since last week, the Internet has been abuzz with the newest viral sensation: university memes.
Freshmen Taylor Roden and Ryan Chew were hanging out with friends in their room in Swig Hall last Wednesday night, when they spotted something on Chew's Facebook News Feed: "Today is the day that ‘USC Memes' will blow up your news feed."
"We didn't think that USC's page was that great, so we decided to make our own," said Roden.
So began "SCU Memes," the student-run Facebook page that features user-generated memes about Santa Clara campus life — one of the few viral Internet sensations sweeping the Santa Clara community and one of the many university-centered meme pages popping up nationwide.
Since its creation last Wednesday night, SCU Memes has created a campus-wide buzz. The page hit 2,000 "likes" two days later, and seen nearly 50,000 pageviews, according to Roden and Chew, referring to Facebook statistics available to page administrators.
"Even Benson Food Services has liked our page," said Chew.
According to Merriam-Webster, memes in the general sense are specific cultural ideas, behaviors or usages that spread from person to person within a culture. But, in this Internet-saturated society, "meme" has adopted a new connotation: an image, video or other medium that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.
In the case of SCU Memes, both current students and alumni have generated images overlaid with text, describing or alluding to Santa Clara-specific phenomena and campus traditions, such as "At O'Connor… Next class in Casa; Embarks on Epic Journey."
"We all know about dishes in the dorms; we all know that Swig is a party dorm," said Chew.
"(SCU Memes) is a way to share inside jokes and build some school camaraderie."
Numerous universities nationwide, including University of Florida, Arizona State University, New York University, Purdue University and San Francisco State University, have created their own meme pages. An online database titled "Campus Memes" was even created earlier this week as a centralized place to se ubmit and find institution-specific memes.
"(Whether we're) a small university or… as big as USC, we all have our own funny stories," said Chew.
Deepa Arora, communications director in the Office of Marketing and Communications, said that the memes she had seen on the page were "funny and enjoyable."
"The ones I've seen are in good taste, and I hope the community polices itself," she said. "If there's ever one that is not in good taste, I hope the Santa Clara community comes together and works to take it down. I think that we're that kind of place."
Both Roden and Chew have said that they have taken down memes that they believed could be offensive or that cross a line.
"Some people called us ‘SOPA' or ‘Communist' because we've taken (their memes) down," said Chew. "While (those memes may be) funny, that's not what I wanted to harbor on the page."
Co-creator Roden agreed with Chew's sentiments, mentioning a desire to brand Santa Clara in the best possible light.
"In the long run, policing has… prevented people from getting into arguments on the actual page," he said. "When we talk about SCU Memes, we want our school to look good." SCU Memes is one of three student-generated online communities and sites that aim to shed light on Santa Clara campus life.
The blog, Th3clara.com, documents the off-campus party scene, providing a centralized place to promote events, share student DJs' work and feature user-contributed content.
The Twitter account "Shit SCU Kids Don't Say" — derived from another viral Internet sensation — has anonymously generated tweets about things that Santa Clara students would not say aloud. For example, the account's earlier tweets include: "I hooked up with her because I know how strong she is academically" and "Our school should care more about the environment."
The Twitter account had 300 followers after two days.
The creator of Th3clara.com was unavailable for comment, and the creator of "Shit SCU Kids Don't Say" declined to comment.
SCU Memes, Th3clara.com and "Shit SCU Kids Don't Say" reflect a nationwide fascination with university-specific content. As SCU Memes creator Chew said, when asked about the viral nature of Internet content: "It just takes off like wildfire, and we added to the flames."
Contact Sarina Caragan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.