According to the (third) definition on Urban Dictionary, a leftist is “a lazy, self serving, communistic, marxist, anti-christian, islamist loving weasel (sic).” That being said, since last year’s presidential election, leftists have swept across the internet through the creation of Facebook groups that serve one purpose: to make fun of everything. Laughter is the best medicine, so many millennials have turned to a virtual world deemed “leftbook” to seek solace during what seems like the end of the world as they know it.
Communication senior Hale McSharry is well-versed in memes and an active participant of many of these online groups. From “Are the straights ok???” to “thank mr banky,” McSharry finds groups like these to not only be places for shits and giggles, but also learning environments where he can garner new millennial perspectives on hot-button topics.
“I think a lot of people on the left side of the political spectrum place a lot of blame on the Democratic establishment for losing the election,” McSharry says. “As our policies have suddenly swung further right, I think many young people are swinging left, and Facebook groups are simple and easy ways that people become organized. I think people want new organizations and don’t want to follow the same leaders that lost in 2016.”
School of Education and Social Policy junior Camille Cooley has been tagging her friends in “dank memes” throughout her college career and agrees that Facebook groups sharing #relatable content blew up soon after the 2016 election.
“These spaces give us an opportunity to share an indefinite communal groan with the rest of humanity that thinks like us.”
“It was also after the election that these Facebook groups became support systems and spaces for people who wanted a place to talk to others about what they were thinking about,” she says. “These spaces give us an opportunity to share an indefinite communal groan with the rest of humanity that thinks like us."
Cooley’s personal favorite left-leaning groups include (but are not limited to): “sounds white but ok,” “sounds male but ok,” “i feel personally attacked by this relatable content,” “swiped the FUCK right” and the OG of college Facebook meme groups, “UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens.”
“The first two are both spaces where people share memes about white people, douchey guys or sometimes both. The third makes me question all of the decisions I’ve ever made in my life, the fourth makes me feel better about my Tinder swipe etiquette and the last is self-explanatory,” she says.
Early this March, SESP sophomore Benjamin Powell created one of the newest online shitposting spaces on campus, Northwestern Memes for Networking Teens (NMNT). With more than 6,500 members, this meme sharing Facebook group has succeeded in hitting close to home – quite literally – for many NU students.
“I wanted to use the ‘something memes for something teens’ format for the name of this group, and networking sounded good because of the alliteration with Northwestern; also it doubles as a joke about how pre-professional NU students are,” he says.
Powell is familiar with the world of left-leaning content, and describes himself as very politically active on the left. He says that while NMNT is not necessarily part of the leftbook world, its overall attitude is sympathetic to the leftist mentality.
“This [Facebook page] was intended to be a one-off joke rather than become a large group,” he says. “I’m really glad that the group took off and that people enjoy it. My favorite thing about the page so far was when emails were sent out about the tuition increase, and it immediately went to the meme page. It was the first time I saw an extensive group of people immediately talk about and criticize something the administration had done in this format; I thought that that was a good sign of what this could be, and what this group could do.”
While it remains to be seen if SESP students will defend themselves against McCormick kids’ vicious virtual jabs, it appears left-leaning groups are going to stick around longer than James Comey’s career under the Trump administration.