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Oxford University students have become the latest to involve themselves in the burgeoning internet meme craze.
University-specific meme pages, which set a particular brand of incisive student humour to amusing stock images, have grown massively over the last few days.
The Facebook group ‘Oxford Uni Memes’ has gained over 2,850 members since its creation early on Wednesday morning.
The term ‘meme’ was coined by Richard Dawkins, Oxford’s former Professor for Public Understanding of Science. In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, Dawkins defines a meme as an idea or behaviour that spreads through a culture by imitation. Internet memes follow this principle, humorous images are copied and re-captioned, concisely describing or satirising the activity of an individual or group.
The Oxford group’s most well-received submissions have exploited the same general themes popular on many university humour sites, including college rivalries and the perceived failings of university infrastructure. The Oxford site particularly satirises the rivalry between Oxford University and Brookes.
PPE student Nicholas Howley explained the phenomenon, telling Cherwell, “Ideas like this always tend to spread fast when they’re universally popular. I think it’s great to have a place to pool Oxford jokes, even if it does show just how much Brookes actually gets slated!”
However the collection of memes has received criticism from some quarters. One Lincoln student suggested that derogatory remarks made about Durham and Brookes were “downright awkward.” He questioned the notion that memes were just “harmless fun.”
One online commenter stated, “You don’t understand memes and more importantly it seems your sense of humour is awful.”