Meme accounts reflect unique sense of community among UT students 

Sebastian Barajas, Life & Arts Reporter

A buzzing energy filled the evening air outside the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center as four individuals conversed, laughed and whispered in each other’s ears. Through genuine conversations and smiles, the individuals of this group proved they are more than students. They are colleagues, comedians and friends.

Aside from donning burnt orange, these four share one common hobby — running UT meme accounts on Instagram.

“Once I got to know the other UT meme pages, I really appreciated the sense of community we had,” said Antonio “Tony” Amine, a history sophomore and owner of @ut_intellectuals. “We all have a nice sense of humor.”

An ever-growing community on Instagram, UT meme accounts, which range from accounts dedicated to rating campus toilets to sharing anonymous messages, strive to share thoughts about and opinions on campus life anonymously through a comical lense. These meme pages  — some of which include @ut_intellectuals, @ut.missed.connections and @5thfloorpcl — have built their followings solely on lighthearted observations for and about the UT student body.

Inspired by Yik Yak, an anonymous messaging social media app, Sofia Puccini, a business freshman and meme page owner, wanted to create a place to share memes that could bring UT students together. Puccini said attending a university like UT should be about experiencing life together, including academics and everyday happenings. 

“When something happens that applies to the entire UT student body, such as the boiled water notice, a lot of people have strong opinions about it,” Puccini said. “A certain way to harness those opinions is through humor. By doing that, you have an outlet to make people feel like they aren’t the only ones that are going through a certain thing.”

Lusia Nnam, visual art studies freshman and UT meme page administrator, said these meme pages serve as informal representatives for student voices. 

“It’s cool to have your experiences seen and validated, even if it’s through something silly like a meme,” Nnam said. “Because students get so stressed out over things on campus, it’s nice to have people take a break and just laugh for a little bit.”

Sophie Burns, business freshman and co-owner with Puccini, said she appreciates the personal sense of connection she has with the meme page administrators, in addition to other UT students. Burns views her friendship with Nnam, Puccini, Amine and the other owners as something very unique, especially for college students. 

Burns said meme pages reflect not only changing generational practices but also how connected UT students are. Burns said using UT-specific topics such as Bevo and the Perry-Castañeda Library for memes connects Longhorns across campus.

“Kind of with the same concept of regular meme accounts poking fun at celebrities, or just general pop culture items, we have our own UT pop culture,” Burns said. 

Puccini said that meme pages and the numerous connections they harbor are unique to the younger generation.

“(Generation) Z tends to relate to one another through the lens of humor,” Puccini said. “I feel that past generations haven’t been able to communicate through humor, images and this sharing of information the way we have been able to. It’s ingrained in (our) culture for sure.”