Wednesday, April 4, 2012

High School Menes


          Wow. If you haven’t been following, the internet was set ablaze last night around Maryland after students discovered a new website called High School Memes. The domain hsmemes.com was launched on the 29th of February, 2012, but it appears to have only recently hit the masses at Park and other Baltimore County schools in the past few days. The premise of the website is that every high school has their own page, where anyone can create and post anonymous memes pertaining to that particular school using a rudimentary text overlay web-app. Dictionary.com defines a meme as: “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.”
High School Memes gives the user an option of 43 popular meme templates, or uploading his or her own image. Once you select a picture, you choose what words you want to place at the top and bottom of the meme, and then you’re done; it’s as simple as that. Park’s first meme went up on March 28th. On April 2nd there were about 6 pages of them— as of now, there are over 30 pages.
The website warns users, “be nice... we don't want to spoil the fun with bad posts. Flag stuff that's inappropriate. And no student names in the memes!” Yet it states nothing about teacher names. In 24 hours of my knowledge of this site, I’ve already seen numerous references and personal attacks to both teachers and students. Under the blanket of anonymity, students can brazenly post on whatever subject they please, not having to worry about the repercussions. Toms River High School in New Jersey was forced to call in local police to patrol the campus this morning after an episode of severe online bullying of students through the website last night. The Superintendent of Toms River Regional Schools said that High School Memes had "a flood of negative and abusive postings.”
What was momentarily a fun and humorous idea almost instantly turned into an anarchic and cruel forum for students to wittily chastise their faculty and peers. By the end of X block today, hsmemes.com had already been blocked on the Park network. Even in the past 20 minutes, there’s been significant escalation on the website as more and more kids are being exposed to it. And I don’t foresee things settling down, either. The memes are going to continue to become bolder and more offensive, crossing new lines just to elicit comical reactions from their friends. Be extremely cautious if you decide to post something on this website. I can assure you, it won’t be long until the administration gets involved.