Staff Opinion: Why I'm grateful for SpongeBob memes

By Dora Totoian | April 3, 2018 9:13am

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Dora Totoian is a senior reporter and copy editor for The Beacon. Photo by Brennan Robinson/The Beacon. 

If you know me, you know I love memes. Salt Bae memes, evil Kermit memes, Wholesome Memes, Romanian memes — I can go on. My best friend even got me the game What Do You Meme? for my birthday last year. 

Those simple images with a few words make me laugh and brighten my day for a moment. I also consider memes a fascinating reflection of how modes of communication change and how different groups of people communicate (here’s an article about memes and the 2016 election and one about how people in different countries interpret different GIFs). 

That same friend who gave me the joy of What Do You Meme? remarked the other day that we had been sending each other an exorbitant amount of SpongeBob memes the past few months. And he was right. The Krusty Krab-Chum Bucket meme, the mocking Spongebob meme, the confused Mr. Krabs meme, and my favorite, the exhausted Spongebob meme, among an assortment of others, have been flooding social media lately. 

I couldn’t be happier. 

Say what you will about “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the show was an integral part of my childhood (and I turned out just fine). Watching the two episodes in the 3:30 - 4:00 p.m. slot after coming home from school was my treat before my mom would make me practice piano (I hated that arrangement at the time, but thanks for disciplining me, mom!). I was very aware of when new episodes would come out and knew basically all of the songs SpongeBob sings on the show. 

The time SpongeBob was a fixture in my life was also the time when my biggest concerns were learning the multiplication table and hoping that my mom packed me what I wanted for lunch. I didn’t have to think about grad school, navigate changing relationships with various people in my life, and realize that in a few short years, I can no longer do what I call “adulting light” but will have to be a real adult who pays all of her own bills and cooks her own matzo ball soup. 

These are pain and stress-inducing realizations (especially the soup issue), but also sources of joy and hope because they mean I’m growing up! 

There’s a SpongeBob meme for every step of the growing process, from when I feel existential dread to when I can’t contain my joy. SpongeBob and his memes remind me of an easier time, and while for a second, I’d like to return to it, I quickly realize that life is infinitely more exciting and full now. SpongeBob is special to people of my generation, and while you don’t need to have watched “SpongeBob” to understand the memes, seeing a memory from your childhood is a sweet and occasionally bittersweet moment that prompts you to pause and reflect, which is always valuable.  

Dora Totoian is a sophomore Spanish and political science major. She can be reached at totoian20@up.edu

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