Stanford Memes for Edgy Trees, a Facebook group, is the digital equivalent of the Dead Week Primal Scream. Founded by sophomore Robel Daniel in 2016, it borrowed its name from a popular group started at Cal earlier that year, UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens. Nearly every elite academic university in the country has a thriving meme group, including Harvard Memes for Elitist 1% Tweens, Yale Memes for Special Snowflake Teens and Official Unofficial Penn Squirrel Catching Club.
Posts on Edgy Trees chronicle student life, with topics ranging from silly to serious. Members find everything from witty snark about Cal to intimate revelations of anxiety and depression. The group has more than 20,000 members, including a sizable contingent of alumni.
“I think there is a sense of community that arises from having a meme page,” Daniel says.
“At a relatively smaller school like Stanford, there are people who post a lot — you recognize them — people who comment a lot, people will mention their friends in the comments. It builds a social connection in that way.”Memes are an outlet for students to express their feelings in a raw and organic way, he adds, a way to open up to others without revealing more than they’re comfortable with.
Memes are an outlet for students to express their feelings in a raw and organic way, he adds, a way to open up to others without revealing more than they’re comfortable with.
“People are more willing to talk about mental health. . . . It kind of makes people realize other people are going through the same thing,” Daniel says.
Daniel also views memes as an instrument for social statements, providing a voice for students.
And for alumni looking for a fix of the Farm, Edgy Trees offers a window. Self-diagnosed “social media addict” Ralph Nguyen, ’12, MA ’12, joined the group because he felt disconnected from his alma mater after having moved to New York City. He often finds himself reminiscing while scrolling through posts, occasionally sending the most amusing ones to his Stanford friends.
“It brings me a lot of nostalgia. It’s fun to see what kids are up to these days, and it makes me feel like a part of the campus.”
Diana Aguilera is a staff writer at Stanford.