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She’s On The Lowest Tier Of The Galaxy Brain Meme

, , , , | Learning | October 22, 2020

When I am working on my graduate degree in cultural anthropology, I, like many of my fellow grad students, assistant-teach introductory courses for first-year students. This year, the department has decided to assign each of us three “discussion sessions” in which we help the students understand the concepts and get them talking about them.

This is initially easier said than done. Many of the students are only taking the class to meet their social science requirement and don’t care about the material. To liven things up, I decide to start each session with a popular meme that relates to the week’s topics. Most students enjoy this. Then there’s this one girl.

During the week when we are discussing socioeconomics and how capitalism has impacted American popular culture, I show a meme that asks, “Which type of person are you?” The meme then shows popular logos, particularly of certain rival computer systems, soda companies, sneaker brands, and so on. As I usually do, I ask the class what they think about this meme. This girl is giving me the stink-eye. She raises her hand.

Girl: *Sneering* “What’s this based on?”

Me: “Well, that’s the question. How did these corporations link themselves to personality traits? Why is it important in American culture to align ourselves with brands?”

Girl: *Condescendingly* “Nooo. What’s this based on? What studies did they do to put together this data?”

Me: “I’m not sure what you mean. This is a meme. Somebody else could have put different logos on here, but these are just a few examples of rivalries—“

Girl: “I just don’t think it’s accurate.”

Me: “Okay, good. What in particular stands out to you?”

Girl: *Scoffs* “Nothing. I think it’s a lie. I think you made this up. Why are you saying that people who like [Major Soda Brand] always wear [Sneaker Brand]?”

Me: “I didn’t make this meme, and I’m not saying that. We are just looking at how these brands are being perceived—“

Girl: “If there’s no data or studies backing this up, it’s fake. It’s not scientific.” 

She folds her arms and smiles smugly, as though she’s just educated me on something. I’m wondering how she’s a millennial who apparently has never seen a meme.

Me: “Well, again, this isn’t meant to be a scientific chart. It’s a meme to stimulate discussion about why some people feel so strongly about brands.”

Girl: “It’s wrong. You don’t get it.”

She glared at me. I called on someone else and the class ended up having a lively discussion about American capitalist culture and how people respond to advertising and branding.

For the rest of the semester, many of the students got more invested in the topics, but that girl continued to be snotty and combative toward me. And even though I did show actual scientific charts at other points in the course, she continued to roll her eyes and accuse me of “lying.”

When I received my evaluations, I got a lot of positive comments about how the course was fun, engaging, etc. Then, there was one that seemed to take particular glee in tearing me apart, calling me a terrible teacher, a failure in my field, etc. Although the evaluations were anonymous, I had a pretty good idea who’d written it.

I guess she was really offended by the idea that she might drink [Major Soda Brand] or wear [Major Sneaker Brand].

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