Meme's the Word in Public Health

Oct 18, 2013, 3:46 PM

Public health professionals have very serious and important work to do—but that doesn’t mean they can’t poke a little fun at themselves in the process. Memes—essentially shared cultural statements—are all the internet rage these days, and the field of public health is not immune to their widespread appeal. A few collections of health-related memes have crossed our desks recently.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched an online campaign to build a community of public health “nerds” that uses social media graphics to spread the word. The campaign, as reported by Public Health Newswire, aims to mobilize the public health community and generate interest in the field’s careers. Since August, the CDC has posted four graphics to its Facebook page that acknowledge the important role of people in public health in a humorous way.

Jim Garrow, of The Face of the Matter, has created a Tumblr of public health memes so that you can get your daily dose of health puns and jokes. In addition, a recent post from Upworthy features 14 memes that use images of everything from Beyonce to Captain Jack Sparrow to depict an “unhealthy” love for public health. The memes on these pages cover a wide range of topics from the Affordable Care Act, to disease outbreaks, to mental health issues by incorporating images from popular television series, movies and internet GIFs.       

A few of our favorites are included below.

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file “We’re not going to stop telling you to get vaccinated” (from
file From CDC Facebook Page

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.