Campus meme accounts on Instagram and Twitter like Barstool LMU and The Grid create community and common culture, as well as a way for students to voice stressors and annoyances. However, as a student body, it is our responsibility to hold these accounts responsible when they make a misstep in the name of laughs.
LMU currently has two well-known meme accounts. Barstool LMU (@barstoolLMU) on Instagram and Twitter is a more established account with over 7,700 Instagram followers. It serves as a direct affiliate of the popular sports-focused entertainment website Barstool Sports. The newer, independent account The Grid (@thegridlmu) has over 1,600 Instagram followers.
Both accounts are relatively new, with Barstool creating its first post in 2017 and The Grid starting its account at the beginning of this academic year. While much of the content on both pages is harmless attempts at satire, some of the posts are in bad taste or even just straight-up disrespectful. These accounts are supposed to be representations of our student culture, so when they post irresponsibly, we must challenge these accounts and their intentions.
The Barstool LMU account creates content aimed at a traditionally masculine audience with posts mainly being about sports and party culture, while the Grid has a more general approach and focuses on a satirical headline-style content.
While some of the posts achieve the goal of making people laugh, others are insensitive and outright rude.
For example, The Grid often represents Public Safety officers as pigs. After being reported by an anonymous Instagram user, one of the posts was even flagged as “sensitive content.” This is a uniquely upsetting trend because posts like these reinforce a negative public opinion about the Department of Public Safety for no reason other than them doing their jobs.
Additionally, on Sept. 11, The Grid posted a picture of the Sacred Heart Bell Tower that evoked the imagery of the 2001 World Trade Center, pre-attacks, with the caption “Never Forget.” Not only is this post tasteless, it also makes light of a tragedy that the owners of the account were probably barely old enough to actually remember.
The post was met with swift disdain— the top comment from Hadley Talty (@htalty29) read, “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I can tell you that this is a really f***ed up and insensitive joke about a horrible tragedy that shaped and affected our entire lives.”
Posts like this need to be challenged. The Grid has influence over students, and the things they post about inevitably become topics of conversation all over the University. For them to support unnecessary negativity and disrespect, and for us to not challenge it, does not fit in our campus culture of productivity and inclusivity.
Barstool LMU, on the other hand, evokes the deeply-rooted problems of the parent company—as explained by The Daily Beast and the Washington Post—and nearly all the posts are problematic in some way. Their content either objectifies women, mocks a student or glorifies destructive campus behavior.
Posts like “Smokeshow of the Day” blatantly objectify women and student-submitted photos and videos glorify risky, rule-breaking behavior in the name of amplifying the party culture at LMU.
Junior liberal studies major Lucy Brandstrader said, “[Barstool] is trying to show [that] LMU is cool, but I feel like their posts [have] a negative connotation because they’re either being mean to someone, or an aspect of the campus or exposing someone doing something embarrassing or illegal.” Brandstrader goes on to say “I think we’re obligated to have a reaction because we’re part of what they represent.”
Not all aspects of these meme accounts are negative. Many posts manage to actually be satirical, especially on The Grid. And Barstool, despite its many flaws, does try and promote the University’s various athletics.
Yet, when we are letting an account serve as a voice for the campus, we must make sure they truly represent us and our values. While these accounts make light of shared campus anxieties, tensions and problems, they also fester a problematic narrative about the way our student body thinks.
These meme groups have a huge impact on student opinion and many people look to their posts as a voice of the general campus population. As a student body, we have the responsibility to hold these pages accountable and to try and make our campus culture not just funny, but productive, respectful and inclusive.
This is the opinion of Alyssa Story, a freshman film, television and media studies major from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.