On Wednesday evening the GMB chamber hosted the College Historical Society’s R&L debate, which is a motion picked by freshers. The debate is then run by first years, and only first years speak. The motion the first years selected was “This House Would Ban Memes”, a universally appealing motion that leaves plenty of room for humour.
The debate was a light hearted affair that was opened with jests relating to members of the Hist. For those unfamiliar to the society, some of this must have seemed odd, but the debate allows first years who have become involved with the society to take control of the chamber for once, and it was entertaining to watch students enjoy themselves in what is usually a relatively serious setting.
The debate opened with proposition making the suggestion that those who continuously post memes do so with the need to gain likes or other responses to fulfil other needs that are lacking. It was further suggested that memes are enjoyed by those who are “sad”. Sharing memes can be a lonely activity and can be a result of searching for instant gratification. Banning memes could leave us free from racist or inappropriate memes, others argued.
On the opposition side, a case was made for memes as being both sources of entertainment and also sources of solidarity and “camaraderie”. Memes can also facilitate the blossoming of romantic relationships between debaters, who may have limited resources for such developments. Memes also allow us to explore darker sides of our humour without acting out such dark thoughts. Memes can bond two individuals together over a shared sense of humour, as they importantly “individual”, each person’s own taste in memes differs. Thus memes we enjoy can often reveal aspects of our personality.
The debate did not necessarily get to the heart of the motion, and we did not get much real reflection on whether or not we should ban memes. Some might have been disappointed by this, especially given the increasing politicisation of meme culture, but the debate as a whole was a comedic affair, with the added entertainment value of informal behaviour in formal attire and the formal setting of the GMB chamber.