New York — Have you ever come across a meme that is so hilarious you get those deep belly laughs, you’re crying tears of laughter and sharing the heck out of it? Yeah, I feel you. And in the prime age of Twitter and Instagram, it’s hard not to stumble upon these comedy gems every once in a while.
But let’s not forget about Facebook. There lies the home of a group that brings me so much joy: subtle asian traits.
A group of Asian-Australian friends in their late teens and early 20s started the group, inviting users to join and “add all your Asian friends :).” As it’s a “closed group,” only approved members can view the content.
Incredibly, subtle asian traits reached one million members worldwide in December 2018, and its membership is growing daily. It has also expanded onto Instagram.
One of my cousins sent me an invite to join the group a couple months back and I’m so glad she did. Not only do I come across posts that have me clutching at my sides with laughter (while simultaneously trying to tap the “like” button), I see so many Asian people I know IRL in the group. That gives me a true sense of community.
There’s the obvious reason for how I feel: I’m Asian and the group was made primarily for an Asian audience.
Then there’s the subtle reason: the group just gets me. Mind blowing, right?
I find memes here especially captivating, because they express the nuances of what it was like to grow up with immigrant parents as a first-generation Asian-American. Sometimes, certain memes even zoom in on what it was like to grow up in a Vietnamese household like mine.
I grew up in a suburban city about 15 miles north of Seattle (shout-out to anyone from Lynnwood!). I went to a high school with a predominantly white population. That meant I spent a lot of time telling people how to pronounce my last name, fielding requests that I speak in Vietnamese on cue, and explaining why the lunches I brought from home looked “weird.”
Though this was an often isolating experience, what made a difference for me was my group of friends, who are Asian for the most part. The parts of myself other classmates found it hard to wrap their heads around didn't need to be explained to my friends, because they understood. Simply put, they got me.
I'm really fortunate to have a group of friends who've been there for me since middle (and elementary) school, but a few months ago I moved to New York City, far away from my childhood buddies. I still have yet to find a squad that truly understands me in the way they do, but subtle asian traits is definitely a start.