University Facebook group Princeton Memes for Preppy AF Teens has recently gained fame both within and outside the University. The public group, which now has almost 6,000 members, is an open forum on which members of the group post funny memes relating to Princeton life.
The group’s official page describes the group as “just a bunch of entitled millennials on a FB page wasting their time writing memes.” It also adds a friendly caveat which reminds members to “keep memes wholesome.”
Nina Osipova ’20 created the meme page on Feb. 28. She said her idea to create the page came after talking to a friend who attends Harvard about Harvard's similar memes page.
“My friend said that one of the people she knew at Harvard who is also a freshman recently started their own meme page a month ago.... She asked me, ‘Does Princeton have a meme page?’”
After the conversation with her friend, Osipova looked to see if a Princeton memes page already existed. She found one page, but it was not active.
“I found that there was one [page] called Princeton Memes for Sad AF Teens,” Osipova said. The Facebook page had been created in December 2016, but it had been inactive for a long time.
“It was pretty much dead,” Osipova said. “No one had posted in it for quite a while.”
Osipova reached out to Shannon Chen ’20, who had originally created the page, to see if she was interested in helping revive it.
“I messaged her. I knew that I was going to sound super weird,” Osipova said. Chen quickly accepted Osipova’s offer to help revive the group. She is now one of the four co-administrators of Princeton Memes for Preppy AF Teens.
Osipova said that only University students were allowed to join the old group, which may have contributed to its lack of popularity.
“The problem was that you couldn’t join the group because you could only join if you had a Princeton email,” Osipova explained. “I thought that was super unnecessary and I told Shannon, ‘Okay, I’m going to make a new page.’”
Inexperienced in such social media ventures, Osipova said she simply followed the advice of her friend from Harvard.
“My Harvard friend had told me — ‘Make sure you make everything completely public, don’t require anything from anybody, just add all of your friends, and post like five starter memes.’”
Osipova received her first 20 notifications during her physics lab. After that, “everything just became totally crazy,” she noted.
The group’s popularity has grown exponentially in less than a month. Osipova said that through the Facebook page, students can post, tag friends, and comment on relatable University-specific problems and experiences through memes. Some of the memes target academic aspects of the University including writing seminars, theses, precepts, and classes, particularly COS 126: Computer Science - An Interdisciplinary Approach. Other posts focus on aspects of social life unique to the University.
The “public” setting for the page has also allowed individuals from outside the University community to contribute to the group. Fiona Erskine-Smith, an Australian woman who stumbled on the group after reading a New York Times article about millennials, has become quite the celebrity within the page after joining the group and making a prominent post:
“I’m 44 years old and live in Sydney, Australia. Admins, I’m flattered but also not sure you should have accepted me? I pressed the ‘join’ button as an experiment and now I feel slightly ashamed. Just thought you should know,” her post read. The post has since garnered over 700 likes and 35 comments.
Over a phone call, Erskine-Smith said she appreciated the pressures that students are under, as well as students' “ongoing competition with the other campuses.” She said she was surprised that after making multiple posts in the group, she has been added by a number of students on Facebook.
Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and reportedly “the most hated man in America,” was also a member of the group for some period. Osipova said that one of the admins of the page had to remove him from the group after he made “an inappropriate post.”
“Memes give you a chance to sit back and laugh about silly things,” said Mofopefoluwa Olarinmoye ’20, a moderator of the group.
“We are living in a stressful environment,” Osipova explained. “We are going through school which dominates all our time. We are removed from home. The meme page helps us to cope with a stress culture. It brings people together.”
Mohamed Shalan ’17, a frequent poster in the Facebook group, said he likes the group because the memes “resonate with a lot of students.”
“I like its light criticism and appreciation of Princeton culture. It was a great way to combine something mainstream with a group experience,” he said.
When asked what her favorite meme was, Osipova said, “It’s the Wilcox chicken meme.”
“I am from Wilson College and I can absolutely agree with the meme that their chicken is very, very dry,” she said.