‘It’s So Hard Not to be Funny in This Situation’: Memes and Humor in U.S. Youth Online Political Expression

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

In light of the promise of humorous political memes as popular routes to citizen empowerment as well as concerns over their potential dangers, it is necessary to examine how everyday citizens make sense of their role in political expression and how they engage with them—or not—in their everyday social media activities. This focus group study explores these questions by focusing on the digital practices of U.S. young adults. The findings suggest a range of benefits of posting political memes and humor online, including building solidarity with likeminded peers and reinforcing communal identity, as well as advancing accessible and influential political critiques. However, these positive assessments are complicated by concerns over the relationship between political meme humor and threats of trivialization and hyper-polarization, which limit some users from participating in its circulation and lead them to seek alternative modes of online engagement that are perceived as more civically valuable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-806
Number of pages16
JournalTelevision and New Media
Volume21
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • humor
  • memes
  • political expression
  • popular culture
  • social media
  • youth

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