The why behind Gen Z’s absurdist sense of humor

“I will become a deer in 4 days.” With this simple message an influencer received over 22,000 likes on Instagram, mostly from Gen Z’ers. This meme is illustrative of a larger trend we’ve been seeing for quite some time now: one that shows Gen Z’s weird taste in humor (speaking on behalf of all other generations). Students rated absurd memes as significantly funnier than the non-absurd memes. These absurd memes often approached big societal issues in a surreal way.

Gen Z’s need for absurdist memes likely stems from their realistic worldview. During their formative years, they are confronted by an ongoing news cycle that often pushes the extreme and negatives. This generation is therefore more prone to experience anxiety due to big societal issues. News about the war in Ukraine, for example, affected especially Gen Z’ers. 

In a world bombarded with constant information and attention-seeking demands, the global crises feel close to home for Generation Z. Memes are a way for them to connect with others, express their concerns, and process their anxiety. By addressing these events through a blend of irony and sincerity, it becomes recognizable and humorous to Generation Z. And as humor has proven to be effective in reducing perceived stress, addressing a serious societal topic in an absurdistic way seems like a smart way to connect and relieve stress among Gen Z.