THE MEMEIFICATION OF #SCHOOLSHOOTINGS IN THE U.S.: YOUTH, TIKTOK, AND PLAYFUL MEDIATED BODIES
With active shooter drills as a normal part of student experiences in the U.S., the threat of a school shooting has become commonplace and institutionalized. Within a context of cultural trauma, it is no surprise that teens are using digital media to create spaces for sense-making, placemaking, and as a way to respond to the constant threat of violence. Focusing on the mediated memeification of school shootings, there exists an entire genre of #darkhumor videos on TikTok in which young people create and circulate irreverent humorous media texts as a response to the constant threat of – and perceived political inaction to - school shootings in the U.S. Through a content and discursive analysis of 200 #darkhumor #schoolshooting videos on TikTok, this paper asks: what can we learn about how young people understand cultural trauma through an examination of their playful and memetic social media practices? Videos are categorized into three groups: $2 (which address media stereotypes, tropes, and transactional survival), $2 (which address the absurdity of school violence and the failure of neoliberal responses), and $2 (which depict dance and movement as celebratory distractions). While the playful and irreverent videos can be read through a lens of critique, satire, or parody, the memetic, social, corporeal, and performative nature of TikTok affords related yet distinct practices and modes of playful social engagement that I refer to as the mediated playful body.