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by Laura Fox
29 April 2015
Thanks for the meme-ories - political humour in the social media age

Thanks for the meme-ories - political humour in the social media age

In an interview a few days ago, Leanne Wood was questioned about why the SNP, commonly viewed as the Scottish equivalent to Plaid Cymru, have enjoyed such a surge in the polls while her party has not. One of the reasons that she cited was the way that the Scottish electorate has been energised by the referendum campaign.

The most visible way Scottish voters seem to have been engaged with politics is through social media. The referendum saw an explosion of activity, but it looks to have continued. Why? What’s kept people north of the border engaged in online discussions?

Honestly? I’d say it was the humour. In typical Scottish style, we’ve taken something which stirs up a lot of feelings and covered them in ridiculous and slightly bitter humour until it’s palatable again.

Though it is likely that there would have been an increase in the use of social media within campaigns for the general election anyway, the most popular social media discussions have revolved around internet memes, not the trolls so often condemned by the politicians.

Here’s my favourites:

The #SNPout twitter hashtag has evolved from a common hashtag of those tweeting tips on how best to tactically vote in order to minimise the amount of seats that the Scottish National Party manage to gain, to a satirical thread where SNP supporters would post pictures of themselves pouting.

There’s also my one of my absolute favourites, Angry Salmond (@AngrySalmond). Sporting a pink beret which will be familiar to anyone this is an Alex Salmond parody account on twitter, which the former First Minister has interacted with on more than one occasion. 

And this isn’t just limited to twitter. Multiple tumblr blogs have popped up to satirise politics and politicians. Anyone is fair game: Ed Miliband 

David Cameron 

Boris Johnson 

Nick Clegg 

Nigel Farage 

and Nicola Sturgeon

While mostly just hilarious, these are all examples of memes that have been created by a body of voters with an increasingly sophisticated understanding of political satire. While this was previously reserved to the realm of Private Eye, there definitely seems to have been a shift in who is an acceptable voice in politics and what they can and can’t say. It seems intuitive that one of the only ways to make sure people who want to get involved in politics do is to make sure everyone feels comfortable talking (and joking) about it.

Laura Fox is a student and social media addict

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