Cruelty-free meme sites?
June 19, 2016 12:53 AM   Subscribe

My 13-year-old loves memes, the kind that are a photo with amusing text over them. Unfortunately if he starts looking for them, they quickly become racist, sexist, degrade people with disabilities, etc. Is there anywhere safe to look for this kind of humor?

A subscription site would be ideal. He has some delays and this isn't a discipline issue. I don't want to sit next to him and discuss each meme and if it's appropriate, etc; this is how he spends free time he earns on the computer. Something PG or PG-13, with current pop culture references, would be ideal.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Nothing like this exists as far as I know. Your best bet would be to curate a social site with a number of different accounts posting on them, (Tumblr dashboard, twitter feed, reddit homepage) limiting those he follows to just the nice ones. It wouldn't really restrict him from clicking around though and wandering into nightmare land. I don't think there's an easy button for this.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:34 AM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Of those I mentioned I think Tumblr is likely your best bet. It's a bit harder to randomly encounter things on there and there is a huge population of (for lack of a better term) Social Justice Warrior teens who stringently avoid being offensive. You'd still have to get him started by researching a bunch of accounts to follow.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:37 AM on June 19, 2016

Unfortunately, memes originated in 4chan and /b and are kind of by definition not family friendly. It's one of the more bizarre twists in the development of the internet, imo, that they've become adopted by mainstream media and marketing campaigns etc.

Animal memes tend to be more on the harmless side. Try

A lot of memes are posted on facebook these days. There's probably still a high percentage of adult/offensive humour there, but facebook at least has some content guidelines.

This facebook page looks like the humour is quite benign (though there is a fat joke in one of the first few posts I scrolled through):

This one too:

Does he like Marvel movies?:

The comments on these pages can be quite bad... But everyone who uses the internet needs to know to never read the comments...
posted by mymbleth at 4:00 AM on June 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Try letting him browse around at Know Your Meme. There are certainly offensive memes there, but each entry includes a history and sometimes analysis of the meme and what makes it funny. If he's freely wandering the internet, helping him learn to think critically about offensive content when he encounters it may be a better use of your time than trying to keep the offensive content at bay altogether.
posted by milk white peacock at 5:19 AM on June 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

No, they don't exist. The internet sucks. But perhaps all humour is cruel at some level and the internet just brings that out into the open? Perhaps this is a learning opportunity for your son. But don't fool yourself: the internet "memes" culture is overwhemingly based around cruelty.

You could tell him that the idea of "memes" is inherently based around following a formula, and he would be better off making his own jokes that come from a place of compassion (if that is truly possible) and are a truer expression of himself?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:30 AM on June 19, 2016

Unfortunately, stereotypes and generalizations are fundamentally what most image macros are. The underlying memes are "people like this do this," where both thises are usually some very easily recognizable stereotype.

Some of them will be referring to experiences or discrete personality traits or characters, but I've never seen any sort of site that had only those from the ones that are just repetition of bigoted stereotypes. It's just not a good format for nuanced or challenging humor.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:50 AM on June 19, 2016

Pleated Jeans has memes, among other things, and is generally good-natured.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:11 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

You might try a Pinterest search on 'memes' with appropriate keywords that will lead you to boards where people post similar things. Most are fine; a few are bad. (The worst part is the ads Pinterest sprinkles throughout, none of which are really related to the topic.) If you review the boards he can follow, you can set up an account and only follow your vetted boards. Here's a search on funny animal memes. That will lead to many boards with other animal memes, like these. (After your search, click on Boards to get this array.)

Note you need an account to look at Pinterest.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 1:33 PM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I let my kid join pintrest. She looks at memes of her favorite actors and TV and movie characters. They are fairly benign. I suggest helping your kid choose what boards to follow, to start at least, and periodically checking on what they're looking at.
posted by latkes at 12:44 AM on June 21, 2016

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