Instagram accounts reveal the meme-ing of Rice
Another year, another batch of Rice-inspired Instagram pages. Rice students have made niche Rice-related Instagram pages about everything from bricks to possums to chairs, but they are also no strangers to meme accounts that make light of Rice happenings and traditions, from parodies of the ‘Be Bold’ campaign to relentlessly positive affirmations about servery swipes.
Kelton Keck, a Sid Richardson College sophomore, started the @rice_affirmations Instagram page at the beginning of his freshman year. Affirmation memes have become a popular trend on social media, and Keck’s account features a Rice-specific take on the trend. Like other affirmation meme pages, @rice_affirmations features posts with overly optimistic, almost absurd messages designed to be relatable and shareable.
“The main reason I started the account was because I liked making random memes and sending them to my friends,” Keck said. “I had a bunch of ideas for affirmations and thought I might as well make an account and have some fun with it.”
Keck’s account features posts about common worries relevant to Rice students. A recent post characterizes the Martel College public last weekend as a superspreader event. Another post jokes that students have to use a second meal swipe to get a drink that they forgot.
“I try to aim for things that are unspoken, shared experiences,” Keck said.
Keck accepts submissions from other members of the Rice community, but he said that the vast majority of his posts are created from his own ideas and occasionally from some of his friends’ ideas. Although @rice_affirmations has garnered over 630 followers, Keck said his main focus isn’t the numbers.
“I like to treat it less as ‘how many followers can I possibly get?’ and more [as] posting whenever I think of something that’s actually kind of interesting to me,” Keck said. “I don’t get any sort of fulfillment from the actual likes or anything on it, but I like the creation process, and I like showing [the posts] to my friends.”
Moreover, Keck said he enjoys the semi-anonymity that he has, as his account does not explicitly identify him as its owner.
“I can just ask someone what they think about the account and they’ll answer objectively, and that’s always kind of fun to me — to listen and see what they actually think about it instead of what they would tell the person who runs it,” Keck said. “Sometimes I’ll tell people that I run it if they really like it, and it’s kind of funny because I feel like a lot of people think that meme pages are run by people they’ll never meet.”
Keck said that he does not see himself passing on the account after he departs from Rice.
“If anyone posts anything offensive or anything, I don’t want that to be attached to me,” Keck said. “And I don’t think I’m leaving something important here, so letting it die off could be maybe a service to the community.”
Ulises Moreno, a sophomore at Baker College and avid meme-creater, started the @bakercollegememes Instagram account in his freshman year, shortly after Orientation Week.
“I had been making memes prior to that and just sending them to the main Baker chat,” Moreno said. “One of my O-Week brothers kept pressuring me, [saying] ‘You should make a meme page,’ and I checked first to see if there was already a Baker meme page and there wasn’t. And I was like, ‘How can that be? We’re the best college. We need to have the best meme page.’”
The meme account focuses on events and traditions in Baker but also takes inspiration from campus-wide happenings that non-Baker students can relate to. Moreno said the account, which has amassed over 1,000 followers over the past year, saw a gradual rise in popularity.
“I just went on a relentless advertising campaign — going to GroupMe chats, putting posters everywhere. It’s been pretty gradual,” Moreno said. “It took a couple months to really get a higher follower count.”
Getting most of his ideas from conversations in Baker GroupMe chats, Moreno produces almost all of the content he posts on @bakercollegememes.
“Sometimes people do send me things, but I would say more than 90 percent of everything is things I make,” Moreno said.
Moreno said one of his favorite posts is about the ‘Be Bald’ campaign, a reference to Rice’s fundraising campaign.
“I changed the Be Bold campaign to ‘Be Bald.’ That one really blew up,” Moreno said. “Special memes that get a lot of attention that I know are some of my best work — it just makes me happy when people appreciate it.”
Moreno said he plans to continue growing his account while at Rice.
“I would really like [it] if Baker could sell @bakercollegememes merch,” Moreno said. “I don’t even want money off of it. Just to see that come from a silly idea out of O-Week, to make a meme page, to see people at Rice wear that — I think that would be really cool.”
Moreno said he hopes the account can live on even when his time at Rice nears an end.
“Eventually, when I’m a senior, I want to pass the page to someone else so it doesn’t just die off,” Moreno said.
The @jibamemes Instagram account was created by Jones College sophomore Ben Allen last October. Allen said he decided to create the account after noticing other Rice-inspired meme accounts, including the @bakercollegememes account, emerge.
“I’d seen some other meme accounts pop up, and I was like ‘Jones needs that,’” Allen said.
Like Moreno’s account, @jibamemes mostly makes light of events, traditions and conversations within Jones but also features content about the larger Rice community. For instance, one of the more popular memes in the early days of his account is about Jones’ neighbor, Brown College.
“One of my favorites was a meme of Brown, like ‘Imagine living in a residential college named after an Ivy you got rejected from,’” Allen said. “That was a good one. Another recent one was about freshmen pretending to be party animals when all they did was study in high school.”
Since its creation, @jibamemes has been solely run by Allen, who plans to continue creating and posting content throughout his time at Rice. Allen said that until it is time to pass the account on to another Jones student, he will enjoy bringing a smile to his followers’ faces — especially the people who have not yet recognized him as the person behind the popular account.
“When I was first talking to my girlfriend, she actually sent me one of my memes before she knew that I ran the account,” Allen said. “I didn’t say anything about it, and she only figured [things] out months later. That was very fun.”
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