Can the Why Can't You Be Normal Meme Make Us Feel Better?

February 16, 2024
David Sunnyside

When it comes to online culture, memes have taken over. They’re a common sight on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and are shared widely across social media platforms such as Reddit, 9GAG and Tumblr. Memes are mostly funny captioned images that ridicule common human behavior patterns. However, can they really make us feel better?

According to Dr. Nicole Cooper, a licensed clinical psychologist and CBT specialist, memes can bring taboo topics such as mental health into the conversation in a way that can yield connection, comfort and even healing. She adds that these can be beneficial because they are often humorous, which helps break down stigma and can help people identify with something that is a common struggle for others.

However, she warns that memes aren’t always helpful because they can become a distraction and lead to excessive time spent on screen. She also says that they can be damaging if used as a crutch to avoid dealing with issues or in place of addressing them through professional therapy and healthy coping mechanisms.

The why can’t you be normal meme takes its name from a scene in the 2014 psychological horror film The Babadook. In the film, a mother of a child with social difficulties shouts at her shrieking son in the backseat of their car, asking him why he can’t just be normal. The scene became an exploitable meme where the characters are labeled with different objects and spawned various YouTube parodies and edits, amassing a wide range of variants online.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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