Let's face it – no one has time to read long articles anymore, whether it is from the Straits Times, Rice Media, or New Naratif. As Singaporeans, with our "lahs," "lehs," "lors," and "han nahs," we want things fast, and we want them now. Singlish, more than anything, is a language of compression. Nobody has time to wait around for your long-form.
The proliferation of image macros, or what we now know as memes, as well as short video clips, whether they are vines, snaps, Instagram stories, or TikTok videos, the digital phenomenon of such compressions of text and media can perhaps be said to be very Singlish. Early on in 2012, it was SGAG (a riff off of 9GAG, a popular meme aggregator in the late noughts) who discovered, recognized and made their name off this demand for local newsworthy content in these compressed, text-light, and humour-laden formats.
Since then, however, newer pages have burgeoned and come to the fore, sometimes leveraging on particular niches and aspects of local society that fall by the wayside of the now mainstream SGAG. Here, we have curated a list of 5 such pages meme-ing on different facets of Singapore. From PSLE to National Service, take a look, indulge in our local culture and heritage, and have a laugh or two – it's only patriotic.
Perhaps one of the most popular out of recent pages distinguishing themselves from SGAG, Kiasu Memes for Singapore Teens, or KMFST, created in November 2016 by a freelance copywriter and social media manager at a tech publication, has memes on current affairs and local happenings. As the "for Singapore Teens" might suggest, its content tends to want to be 'edgier' and more subversive than your standard fare.
Speaking of teens, there is now an interesting trend of secondary school and junior college meme pages. Often on specific school experiences we all know and remember, they help archive shared memories we might have had (or are having) from our school days. Tan Kah Kee Junior College (@tkk.jc), the meme page for Hwa Chong Junior College, is currently the most popular, after @nyjcmememachine, the meme page for Nanyang Junior College, which was shut down last year.
As if they were holding up a mirror to our major national institutions, along with junior college meme pages, teens grow up, and we have Memedef (formerly known as MDES Scheme for Pes F Green Boi Memes), which as both names allude to, has as its focus the cultural touchstone of National Service. Always a lively repository for shared in-jokes that cut across generation gaps, the page created by two National Servicemen in February 2018 spoofs all the various aspects of conscription and the local military service.
Started by @thisisjz, @jollymcwank, @mossewu and @puntat_thoughts, Highnunchicken (a pun on Hainanese chicken) is styled after the famous New Yorker cartoons. From "eh... I anything" to "Ai stead mai?", who knew that the punchiness of our local slang would match so well with the New Yorker-style 1-panel comics? With the elegant simplicity of the 1-panel 1-line caption structure, not only can you act 一个 sophisticated while viewing the cartoons, but you can also fall in love once again with the distinct local phrases we hear and use every day by seeing them interpreted in new and creative ways.