Former Editor in Chief Rachel Deal sat down with sophomores Christina Hill, Sam Nussenzweig, and Evan de Lara, three of the admins of the the Facebook group columbia buy sell memes, to talk about meme-making, procrastination, and campus culture. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Bwog: How and when did this Facebook group first start?
Christina Hill: It started on Monday of this past week on December 5th. It happened super randomly. Lauren Beltrone [another admin who was not present for the interview] was the first one who was like, “Let’s just make a meme group,” and so she made it and added us as admins.
Bwog: How do you all know each other?
CH: I knew Lauren from high school, and then the three of us here knew each other because we lived on the same Carman floor last year. So we all, in our group chat, we’d always send memes.
Bwog: Why the buy/sell format?
Evan de Lara: I think that was an accident.
Sam Nussenzweig: Well, no, it was based off of Barnard Buy Sell Trade, right?
CH: I told Lauren that it should be buy/sell because I had seen some other meme Facebook groups that were buy/sell. I think it’s funny. I think it adds more options for people to, like, write descriptions or whatever.
Bwog: I was wondering if it was related to the idea of meme-making as “meme production” and how some people talk about that in terms of Marxist theory.
EDL: We definitely didn’t think about that.
SN: Yeah, we haven’t learned Marx in CC yet.
Bwog: Yeah, you’ll get there. So as admins, do you see yourself as arbitrators? Do you have a moderating philosophy? I know a lot of meme groups have Google docs where they list the rules of the group. Do you see yourselves coming up with rules like that? How have you dealt with issues so far?
SN: Yeah, we don’t have any rules yet. At first, when there were like 100 people in the group, we just deleted memes when they weren’t funny, but as it got bigger, we realized we can’t really just do that. Some memes have been deleted, and there have been complaints that we are censoring free speech.
Bwog: What kind of stuff has been deleted and why?
EDL: Someone requested that we delete something because a girl had been harassed because of the meme. So we were like, “Okay, let’s delete it,” but then the original poster got mad.
CH: Sometimes people post selling actual stuff. Like, “Buy these Beats headphones!” So I deleted that.
EDL: A lot of things get reported.
CH: But we’ve decided as admins that, like, this isn’t a “safe space.” It’s a meme page. People are going to get offended.
SN: If something were really bad, we’d probably delete it.
Bwog: What do you define as “really bad?”
EDL: I mean, there are things that are bad….but it’s also like, it’s a meme. I think some of the people mean them to be satirical. Like there was one today that was like, “When you’re at a Goldman Sachs interview and you look around and there’s a GS student, a couple ‘Bernard’ girls, and a guy who’s definitely not getting a work visa under Trump.” And the picture is a guy who’s super happy and at a job interview.
Bwog: Wait, also, what is the ‘Bernard’ girls thing?
EDL: Someone made a typo in a meme, and now it’s, like, a thing. Anyway, yeah. The Goldman Sachs one…it was definitely satirical, but people definitely did not get that.
CH: If it’s offensive and has nothing to do with Columbia, I’d definitely delete it. Also, if it’s causing a big uproar, and no one is liking it, but there’s a big fight in the comments section, then we’ll just delete it.
Bwog: How do you feel about people joining the group who don’t go to Columbia or are alums?
SN: I don’t care.
EDL: I mean, the Berkeley meme group has like 40,000 people in it. Like, I’m in it.
CH: I think we were definitely inspired by the Berkeley page also. But yeah, the meme group is Columbia-centric, so some of the people might not get all the inside jokes, but it’s fine.
Bwog: What do you see happening to the group as time goes on, like after finals? Is it still growing at the same pace?
CH: People are still posting at a steady rate, but the rate at which people are joining the group has somewhat slowed down. I think it will die down once finals are done because people will be home for break. But yeah, we don’t really know what will happen.
EDL: Yeah, I mean, the group’s popularity definitely surged because we’re in the middle of finals. But we have such a large number of members…I don’t think it’s going to ever really stop.
Bwog: What do you think about people posting old memes? What are all of your personal tastes in memes?
SN: Like Pepe memes?
Bwog: Yeah, or like the Mr. Krabs meme or the “Why you always lyin'” meme.
CH: Yeah, and there have been a lot of those weird face memes that were big in middle school…the derp faces? When I first saw that, I was like, “Wow, people are really throwing it back.”
SN: I like the old memes.
EDL: Yeah, as long as they’re funny. I don’t think we have a meme preference. We would rather people make their own memes because a lot of people are just reposting memes and adding a Columbia-related caption…like, side-eye. And there are also some memes that are way funnier than others. But whatever.
Bwog: Which memes have been your favorites?
EDL: Oh my god…the Ferris gymnastics one. It’s like Ferris at rush hour with pictures of a gymnast. All of Rasmi’s are funny.
CH: The signing boys into Barnard one. I think it has the most likes. Who took that photo? I want to know.
EDL: Sam made the “perfect man doesn’t exist” one with a picture of Mike, the Carman security guard.
SN: I like anything with the “nut” button. Or Joanne the Scammer.
Bwog: What kinds of Columbia experiences do you think people are most often expressing through their memes?
EDL: Stress and homework and bad grades.
CH: And dining halls. But also all the starter pack ones can get, like, deeply personal, like the ones that talk about mental health. But it’s cool that you can see people liking these memes that seem very niche, and it’s cool that people can relate to each other through this group.
Bwog: Yeah, I think it’s very telling that most of the memes are about stress because we have like, very few campus traditions.
CH: Yeah, and the group is serving as a way of creating community, I think. And it’s fun.
Bwog: Any weird experiences so far? Funny stories?
CH: It was cool that we inspired the Senior Night theme last week.
EDL: I’m in Theta, and in chapter they give awards for people doing big things. So they gave me this award for being a leader on campus because I’m an admin of the group. They were like, “This is for stress-busting and creating cultural conversation on campus.”
Bwog: Is being admins taking up a lot of time during finals?
EDL: For Christina, yes.
SN: Not because she’s an admin, though. Just because she likes to post and look at the memes. But as admins, what we do doesn’t take up much time.