“Subtle Asian Traits”: More than just memes

subtle asian traits
With regards to Asian pride and humor, “Subtle Asian Traits” is anything but subtle (Anne Gu on Facebook)

By GRACE LIU
Staff Writer

If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you might have heard of something called “Subtle Asian Traits.”

“Subtle Asian Traits” is a Facebook group targeting Asians around the world. Started by nine Asian Australian students, this group posts memes that embrace Asian stereotypes in many areas, including education, home life and culture.

Since the group’s formation September 2018, it has grown to more than 1.2 million members in the past five months alone. Its popularity has led it to also be featured and interviewed by multiple other news sources, such as the New York Times. With this growing success, however, comes both excitement and stress for the group.

“Excitement is the first since having access to a group of over a million members has opened up so many opportunities for us in becoming a bigger influence to the Asian community,” administrator Lydia Jiang said. “Stress is just an inevitable factor that will come along with having to manage and moderate so many incoming members and post.”

With so many members and posts to go through, “Subtle Asian Traits” has employed a team of administrators and moderators in order to be able to manage its activity.

“[Being an administrator and moderator] involves filtering through posts each day by approving or disapproving them, accepting and declining incoming member requests, and checking through member-reported posts that may go against our group rules,” Jiang said.

A wide variety of posts can be found on “Subtle Asian Traits.” Some examples include stories, memes, jokes and even advice.

When asked about her favorite meme, Jiang said, “Personally, I can’t go a day without either using the shocked Pikachu meme or thinking it in my head in a real life situation. So versatile.”

Although the group was started in Australia, its memes and messages have resonated with Asians worldwide. While it may be known for its relatable and sometimes cringey memes, “Subtle Asian Traits” is so important because it helps share the diasporic Asian experience that is many people’s lives, yet is not present in pop culture or media.

“In today’s society, representation and community is so important and crucial in building an individual’s’ identity,” Jiang said. “We think this group is important as it really provides a sense of validation and affirmation within our members, and equally instils confidence within us as people of colour.”

For Jiang, one specific area of concern in the Asian community deserving of awareness is the conflicted nature of second generation Asian immigrants’ identities.

Personally as an Asian Australian, I’ve spent much of my life assimilating into white Australian culture and ignoring my Chinese heritage, but this group has really brought to light the importance and most importantly, the pride that I should have in being an Australian born Chinese,” Jiang said. “It breaks my heart to see younger people go through the phase of hating or denying their cultures, so I wish that the topic of identity is addressed more.”

Although on the surface, “Subtle Asian Traits” may seem like another Facebook meme page, it means so much more for the millions of Asians across the globe.

“I see ‘Subtle Asian Traits’ as a platform through which so many young Asians can use to begin to embrace their own cultures and learn about their heritages,” Jiang said. “Over the past few months, ‘Subtle Asian Traits’ has become such a place of belonging; we share our memories, struggles, jokes, ambitions, and so much more.”

 

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