50 Of The Funniest And Most Accurate History Memes That People Shared On This Page
History teaches us to analyze and explain past challenges. It allows us to see patterns that might've been invisible in the present otherwise, thus providing a crucial perspective for understanding (and solving!) current and future problems.
However, distant times, full of people that have been long dead might often seem like exactly that — distant. So let's make everything a little bit more relatable and take a look at a Facebook page called History Memes.
Offering what the name promises, it shows historic figures and the events they've been part of through well-known popular culture motifs, reminding us that we can always find common ground with another person, no matter if they're a peasant from the Middle Ages or an ancient Greek aristocrat.
More info: Facebook
We managed to get in touch with the person behind History Memes, and they told us that the page isn't reposting content from elsewhere on the internet. They're creating the memes themselves.
"The only real criteria I have [for sharing a particular idea] is whether I find it funny and if it doesn't cross any line," the creator of the Facebook page told Bored Panda. "I don't want to get in trouble and I also think there are plenty of subjects you don't joke about. I usually find a picture or 'template' and then think of a historic event that'll go well with it."
"Mostly, the more common the knowledge about the period or event is, the better the post does," the person behind the page said. "So WWII memes do a lot better than obscure Dutch history posts, for example. I have a lot of American followers, which is funny since I'm from the Netherlands myself. So American history or Western history usually does better."
They started the page a long time ago and regularly made daily posts. "I think that helped [it to become as popular as it is] and I suppose my humor just clicked with people. I always stick to things I find funny and perhaps it's also a bit because it's all original content."
What they like most about running this history page is the fact that an obscure meme makes people ask questions and educate themselves. "It's just all in good fun for me!"
Interestingly, historian, college administrator, amateur homesteader, and writer Joshua Wilkey quite often uses memes in teaching. "I even sometimes assign my students to use memes as a way to present what they are learning in the classroom," he told Bored Panda for our earlier article on history memes.
In fact, memes have been around in some form or another for thousands of years.
In 2016, archeologists uncovered a mosaic from the 3rd century B.C. in what was the ancient city of Antiocheia. The piece has three frames and seems to depict a bathing scene. The first frame is of a servant preparing a bath; the second frame, a young man running away from taking the bath, being pursued by an older servant who is unable to catch him; the last scene, a “reckless” but seemingly happy skeleton of the young man is sitting casually with a jug of wine.
The inscription below him reads: "Be cheerful and live your life." So you could say it's the original YOLO.
But why bother with history in the first place? Well, Joshua Wilkey said that "as an academic pursuit, history teaches important skills like critical reading and analysis. For the average person, though, history is an important way of understanding the context of what is happening in the present."
"I do not buy the argument that history repeats itself - and I think few professional historians would say that it does. It does, though, as Mark Twain once said, rhyme a lot. When one looks at the world as it is today, one cannot fully understand it absent knowledge of history," Wilkey explained.
"One cannot, for example, understand the Black Lives Matter movement without understanding the long history of civil rights activism in the United States. One cannot understand what is happening in Afghanistan without understanding the long history of that particular part of the world, specifically through the lens of imperialism. Current events do not happen in a vacuum. Trying to understand or react to them absent an understanding of the history is detrimental at best."
Of course, that doesn't mean that you have to be familiar with every period of every civilization. "One of my favorite TV shows growing up was The Andy Griffith Show, and in one episode, Aunt Bee remarked that history must be harder to learn in the present because there's more and more of it being made every day," Wilkey recalled. "However, there are some good strategies to employ to learn the depth of history in a way that is useful for the present."
"Rather than broad surveys of history, whereby one attempts to learn the entire breadth of history for a given place, I think deeper dives are more useful. I prefer to study history topically rather than by place. For example, one can study the history of conflict, the history of racial inequality, the history of capitalism, or the history of imperialism, and follow the threads of those themes through both time and place, for a more comprehensive look at why things are the way they are."
The historian said that understanding how themes like economic inequality or political power have played out at multiple times and places is more useful for the average human than to learn facts about the history of a given place. "Ultimately, the goal should not be to learn history for the sake of being good at Jeopardy!, but for the sake of developing a more meaningful understanding of why things happened," Wilkey explained, adding that it's much more valuable than simply knowing what happened.
And it makes sense. You start making connections and developing ideas rather than just working on your memory. You start thinking.
Once you decide on a topic you want to dig into, you need to start collecting sources. "At the risk of having my professional historian card revoked, Wikipedia is a great place to go to learn the basics of a given event," Joshua Wilkey said. "At this point, it's rather more accurate than most easily accessible sources, including most online encyclopedias."
"Apart from that, I am a big fan of podcasts. Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is great for those who can devote substantial time to listening. Slow Burn is also fantastic, as is the podcast that accompanies the 1619 Project. This Land is wonderful for those who are interested in indigenous history. I could go on for days with podcast recommendations, but there are so many good ones out there, the possibilities are limitless. For print readers, ProPublica also has a wonderful deep dive into many important topics. I especially enjoyed their piece a few years ago titled 'Firestone and the Warlord' about the history of the rubber industry in Africa."
As for sourcing accurate materials, Wilkey said it's important to employ information literacy skills to vet any potential source.
"While there's much to be said about the elitist and often-problematic nature of academic gatekeeping, the solution is not for anyone to publish anything they want, but rather, for us to engage with the public as much or more than we engage with each other as academics."
The historian likes to tell his students that if they are not engaging members of the general public with their work, then the public will be engaged by idiots, liars, and fear-mongers. "The average reader should make it a point to ask why they should believe any given source (including academic literature!). The fact that they found it via social media is often an argument against believing it," he said.
However, if it's more memes that you're after, check out our piece on History Memes Explained, a cool social media project that not only collects but also dissects the best memes about our past.