Meme Urbanism 101

They heard you like transit, so they put transit in your memes. (If you don't know what that means, read on.)

April 19, 2018, 5:00 AM PDT

By Elana Eden

Burning Man

Michel Piccaya / Shutterstock

Don't let anyone tell you urban planning is boring.

In Chicago Magazine, Zach Mortice explores the appeal of a popular Facebook group, New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented TeensAfter a year, the group boasts more than 61,000 members—and only about a quarter of them actually work in transit, admins estimate.

The timbre of the group is one of "pop-culture meme snark crossed with niche graduate school Thought Leadership," Mortice explains. Many posts rely on Internet savviness, adapting existing memes to urbanist purposes. (Here's the one referenced in this story's summary.)

The group trends young—though not limited to teens; that's just another meme—with 40 percent of members in the 18-25 age range. It also trends left, wonky, and weird:

"There's a strong lefty bent to the group, imploring for public funds dedicated to transit, at a high cost to the rich…Posts complain about poor transit service and design and examine urban development policy, with a special focus on curios, oddballs, and weird juxtapositions."

For more examples and nerdy laughs, head to Chicago Mag. (Or, if you can stomach both "absurdist postmodern riffing" and calling trains "thicc," join the group itself.)

Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Chicago Magazine

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