“Subtle Asian Traits” – Dual Identities via Internet Memes
Founded by a group of Asian-Australian high-school students, Facebook Group ‘Subtle Asian Traits’ has taken the internet by storm. Bonding over a shared cultural identity, groups members have rapidly doubled in size, reaching 1 million members. And it’s not just limited to Australia, the group’s members show the scope of the Asian diaspora across the globe, reaching both the US and the UK.
Abundant with intelligent memes reflecting the conflicts that arise from growing up with dual-identities as first, second or third generation migrants, the bond of shared experiences is clear from the amount of likes and comments each post garners. Group member engagement is astounding and has since spawned other groups connecting members over their love of food ‘Subtle Asian Eats’ or even the same popularly chosen name ‘Subtle Asian Kevin Traits’.
The group’s popularity paves a new way to talk about cultural differences and it’s use of humour encourages a new found confidence in accepting their Asian identities alongside the Western. The increasing sense of cultural pride is clear from posts referencing the sudden embrace of Asian culture in Western society. Finding yourself amongst thousands of others similar to yourself, the ability to laugh about and make fun of cultural stereotypes is one way these millennials are able to bridge the gap between their ethnic and national identity.
Bu however much it unites communities across the world, the group has not escaped criticism. Labelled as Subtle Asian Traits, there has been backlash over the focus on the East-Asian diaspora. What’s more, the endlessly growing number of members makes it even more difficult to address and discuss specific nuances regarding race and privilege. That’s not to say group admins are not addressing these issues, after all the group itself is still young. Although fundamentally a meme group at heart, it’s an interesting demonstration on how we can open up conversations on weighty topics.Header Image: Flickr, Licence