Storm meme-orable for what it wasn’t

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It was a perfect storm for memes in Manitoba this week, as individuals used humour to make sense of — or make fun of — the spring storm.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/04/2022 (299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It was a perfect storm for memes in Manitoba this week, as individuals used humour to make sense of — or make fun of — the spring storm.

Jokesters turned to social media to post photos and videos about the storm, which many found underwhelming in light of the initial forecast and warnings to be prepared for power outages. Some riffed on moments in pop culture, while others crafted original content.

Two Manitobans who shared their spin on Manitoba storm memes say there’s often more to these posts than just laughs.

Nathan Bezoplenko turned to the user-driven platform, Reddit, to give his own take on the storm.

The 35-year-old small business owner posted an image to the Winnipeg subreddit of three orangutans that appear to be in conversation with one another on the set of a talk show. A text overlay reads “When blizzard?”

“Every once in a while, there’s some shared experience for people in Winnipeg, and I think memes are a funny way to add onto other people’s humour,” Bezoplenko said. “It also has this disarming effect. People can tend to take things pretty seriously, so it cuts through some of the emotion.”

In some instances, Bezoplenko sees memes as a way to assume a neutral stance on a topical or hotly contested issue — a way to contribute to the conversation without necessarily taking a side.

“It does feel like it’s that all-or-nothing approach that people kind of get drawn into in the online world, like we all have to be on the same page about how bad this storm is, or how bad it could be,” Bezoplenko said.

He believes the buildup to the storm, from barren milk aisles in grocery stores to the pre-emptive closures of libraries to press conferences with Winnipeg’s mayor, likely contributed to the meme frenzy.

The storm has had a mild impact on Bezoplenko. Ahead of the storm, he purchased a few more grocery items than usual and didn’t go into work on Wednesday.

“I do recognize that the (storm) warnings maybe aren’t for everyone in the same way. I am able-bodied, so I can get around fairly easily,” Bezoplenko said.

Eric Labaupa, 43, found himself looking to the sky outside his South Pointe home at 3 a.m. Wednesday in anticipation of a fierce storm. When he saw no snow to speak of, he became inspired to make his first satirical “#snowmageddon2022” newscast video.

“I’m not trying to make any kind of commentary, per se, on whether there was a lack of snow or if it was underwhelming or anything like that; it’s more to poke fun at the whole situation,” Labaupa said. “I wanted to put something out there that’s more positive.”

Labaupa’s videos show him as a news anchor presenting short weather report clips submitted to him by Manitobans and North Dakotans braving — and taking cracks at — the blizzard.

“They’ve been coming in by boatload from all different areas,” said Labaupa, who works in sales and marketing and is a leader in Manitoba’s angling community.

Both Bezoplenko and Labaupa pondered Manitobans’ reactions to this storm in the context of the pandemic. Labaupa wonders if the public may have been more easily riled up by the storm given the collective trauma of the past couple of years.

“My commentary there was (that) it’s post-2020 vulnerability,” Labaupa said. “I wanted to make light of it, for people to take a step back and laugh at it, instead of panicking.”

Both men noted how this weather event compelled many to voice their viewpoints online, as is the case with COVID-19. Polarized opinions aside, Bezoplenko and Labaupa and all other storm meme creators have shown that humour — at least as a concept — is something Manitobans can agree on.

fpcity@freepress.mb.ca

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