On Wednesday 26 October, Irish Facebook servers went into overdrive. The cause? A seemingly-innocuous event page for a Sunday mass hosted by a page entitled Sunday Morning Mass on RTE was essentially transformed into a giant millennial forum into which the ‘dankest’ of memes were poured for all to gaze at in wonderment and awe.
At first glance, it looked like a legitimate event was hacked, however, it seems as though the entire thing was a hoax. Posts on the event creator’s page date back to May 2012, all of its statuses intent on taking the mickey out of church-goers.
If you are between 18 and 25, I am absolutely positive you will know what I’m talking about. For those who may not have seen the page, I will attempt to explain. The hilarity of this situation lay in the posts that young, predominantly Irish Facebook users were leaving on the event page. They ranged from the mandatory Father Ted memes to more edgy posts by fake accounts. Most of the posts sought to conflate mass-going with attending a festival or ‘club night’, as it were, with one genius commenter advertising the ‘kneeling tickets’ he had for sale!
What was interesting is that the posts all conveyed a sense of shared experience. Since everyone on the page was of a similar demographic (which is strangely uncommon on the internet) there was a striking uniformity about the experience.
For example, most of us remember studying Junior Certificate history, of which Martin Luther’s reformation played a starring role. Therefore, everyone was ‘in’ on the joke when a fake page carrying Luther’s name and likeness posted the genius line: ‘Hey guys, nice event, mind if I suggest a few changes?’
Here was a rare occurrence: everything that tickles the humour of Irish millennials presented together in one easy-to-reach space. The jokes poked fun at Eamonn Dunphy’s theatrically-overt admiration for Wes Hoolihan, our sense of grief at losing Harambe and of course our fondness for festivals and ‘the sesh’.
At the time of writing, the event page has 110 thousand confirmed attendees, a little more than you would expect to squeeze into your average church – no matter how many ‘kneeling tickets’ are going cheap! That being said, not everyone appreciated the well-intended humour. There were a number of objections made, lamenting the absence of reverence amongst the jokers – with one person even inferring that those who made jokes at the Lord’s expense were going to hell. Yikes.
And here it was at long last: the irreverence and hedonism of millennials that we have been told existed for so long, served up in front of our very eyes. One genius example of this would be the recurring likeness that was drawn between the body of Christ and what we shall diplomatically call ‘party-enhancing pills’.
This Facebook-led mass hysteria is symptomatic of the youth of modern Ireland – we are more than willing to cast away the shackles that bound previous generations in the pursuit of individual enjoyment. Moreover, the mass page phenomenon seems to suggest we are patently incapable of taking anything serious as a generation, save perhaps the all-important sesh.
Furthermore, the occurrence illustrated the generational divide that exists between us and the generation that preceded us. We are no longer bound to institutions by guilt. It seems the youth of today exist in a world that is entirely predicated upon the pursuit of fleeting pleasures, sometimes to our own detriment – whether this is desirable in the long run or not is another matter entirely.
The point that matters, though, is that we live according to our own rules nowadays, and this peculiar Facebook congregation highlighted that very fact. It also has to be noted that every single joke was carried out in good (if somewhat questionable on occasion) humour. When left to our own devices, we do not descend into anarchy. We are far too busy captioning photos of Pope Francis skulling a glass of wine to even think about such heinous notions.
Deeper still, the page illustrated our propensity to be extremely self-deprecating. In mocking mass attendance, something that has been a cultural hallmark of our society for generations, we are poking fun at ourselves.
The aforementioned person who did not find the page so amusing intimated that the page would not be half as funny if it were mocking Judaism or Islam. I mean, the Charlie Hebdo affair kind of put paid to anyone making fun of the latter group.
All said and done, that person was probably right in her inference. However, she missed the point completely. There is something beautiful about this strange internet gathering – we are mocking ourselves, not swarming around and attacking some hapless minority as usually happens in the darker recesses of the net.
Anyone who has spent time reading message-boards or Facebook comment sections on the internet knows how hard it is to reach an absolute consensus about anything, there are simply too many differing opinions out there.
It was nice to sit back and see us all agree on something in near unanimity on the internet for once – together the contributors made a collective effort to tear down the last remaining shackles of a once-powerful Irish institution the only way this generation know how: by making offensive jokes on Facebook.
You can find the page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1803684463203226/
Cautionary note: This is not intended as an express endorsement of every joke that appeared on the page, I hadn’t time to read all 20 thousand. Also: Ts and Cs apply. Batteries sold separately.
-By Eoin Molloy