Coping with a “Coup” through Memes

January 14, 2021

Jamie Withorne

The following is an excerpt of a piece published on Inkstick.

Unless you are living under a rock, you have likely heard about the violent siege/riot/coup/insurgency (whatever you are choosing to call it) that took place at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The attack was organized and led by avid Trump supporters and resulted in the deaths of five people. The events of January 6, 2021, were unprecedented and traumatic.

For many Americans, the events of the siege played out across social media platforms. Many people, like myself, tried to learn more about what was going on at the Capitol by doomscrolling (a term that should have been deemed runner-up for Merriam-Webster’s “2020 Word of the Year”). Doomscrolling is the act of continuously scrolling through social media feeds despite the fact that the events playing out on your screen bring you nothing but a sense of doom, and then refreshing your feed and repeating. As the country collectively doomscrolled, calming phrases like “coup” and “civil war” started to trend on Twitter. Mere hours after the event, memes became as prolific as breaking news updates.

This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, exactly one year before the events at the Capitol, I wrote a piece about the memeification of international security. Given the outpouring of memes following the January 6 events, I decided to replicate my previous meme analysis. With this 2021 study, however, I sought to better understand the question: what does a digital response to a national (security) crisis look like?

Continue reading at Inkstick

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