“Damn I Didn’t Know Y’all Was Sad? I Thought It Was Just Memes”: Irony, Memes and Risk in Internet Depression Culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

Abstract

Born in online cultures that use irony as a form of play, depression memes seek to subvert popular understandings of mental health and expression. Commenting as much on the brutal reality of depression as well as a number of associated anxiety symptoms, depression memes manifest as a generalised pessimism towards the future, often resulting in a nihilist outlook that borders on suicidal ideation. This article studies how depression meme culture operates as a logic transcending various social media platforms and their respective modes of subjectivisation, and risk results from the tension between them. Within mask cultures, dissimulation is the driving principle behind layering irony onto a text, with the purpose of constantly evading a stable sense of identity. (de Zeeuw, 2017, Tuters, 2019). On Facebook and other social media platforms like Instagram, irony can be pursued to increase one’s social capital and acts as a form of connective intimacy (McCosker, Gerrard, 2020). Internet depression culture reveals the tension between these different modes of subjectivity, and creates ambiguity that risks being recuperated by the neoliberal discourses around mental health it seeks to escape from.
Original languageEnglish
JournalM/C Journal
Volume23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • memes
  • digital culture
  • irony
  • depression

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