When it comes to surreal memes, no one does it better than Tumblr. The latest is inexplicable on its surface and only makes sense when you discover where it came from: an influx of macros of aquatic images with the slogan: “There are many advantages to being a marine biologist.”
Over the past month, this meme has spread from Tumblr to Facebook and Reddit, and it’s basically the opposite of relevant content. It’s because the meme literally started in someone’s dream. The point of origin was Tumblr user @pixellecutie, who posted the first ‘marine biologist’ meme on Aug 22 and wrote, ‘I had a dream where this became the new meme for a while. . ” This turned out to be catnip for Tumblr’s neo-Dadaist sense of humor, leading to a thread of copiers.
Each social media platform has its own tone of popular memes, from the mundane âshare if you agreeâ content from Facebook to the repetitive pop culture threads of Twitter. But while the biggest Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram memes are all about self-expression, Tumblr prefers things that don’t make sense. (The marine biologist meme quickly picked up on Facebook’s weirdness, however, spreading via the Wild Green Memes for Ecological Fiends page.)
@Pixellecutie’s subconscious has tapped into Tumblr’s love for unnecessary nonsense. Marine biology is a niche profession with no obvious “benefits” so people could have fun reinterpreting what the meme actually meant. He also had an obvious appeal to the Tumblr community of people who love to sexualize monster fish.
According to the typical life cycle of a Tumblr meme, this one has already inspired its own spinoffs: the downsides of being a geologist, the neutral qualities of being a chemist, and other increasingly mysterious remixes of the genre. And in case you’re wondering, this isn’t even the first time Tumblr has turned someone’s dream into a ubiquitous, inexplicable meme. The only social media platform that directly probes your subconscious.
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* First published: Sep 23, 2021, 11:40 a.m. CDT
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a writer for The Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in science fiction films and superheroes, she also appears as a film and television critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor