Jonathan Lee (left) and Raphael Yee (right) launched their hit meme site Memedef in 2018 and has seen it grow massively as many resonated with their humour.
Over two years in the army, these former platoon mates built Memedef, which now has more than 100,000 users across multiple social media platforms. Known for its timely and contextual memes, Memedef is a light-hearted take on NS.
The page's humour riffs on shared experiences from National Service. (Image courtesy of Memedef)
We wanted to make sure they had a voice too, and that they know we’re out there thinking about their NS lives too.
The page exploded after its launch in February 2018, gathering 16,000 page likes after just one month.
But the duo soon received word that their superiors were unhappy with the page’s content, and wrote a post explaining how Memedef was not set up to troll the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), but as Raphael puts it, to “be the voice for the men who sacrifice two years of their lives for their country.”
Likewise, their parents had their reservations. Jonathan’s parents were against the idea of him putting his views on a platform, which they felt could be very easily misunderstood by the older generation. But soon, their sentiments changed after Memedef was featured in the media.
There has been a shift in how memes are perceived, especially to the general public, and it could potentially be a powerful tool for communicating with young Singaporeans, Raphael says.
Although they ran into some roadblocks at the start, Raphael and Jonathan were committed to growing Memedef. The support from the online community has encouraged them to continue making memes.
As the digital generation grows and matures, it isn’t just individuals who are accepting of this phenomenon. Organisations from neighbourhood police posts to Temasek Holdings have started using humour in their campaigns. It reflects the shifting perception people have towards memes both at an individual and corporate level.
Raphael adds, “A major institution like Temasek chose to take a risk and did something to break the status quo of public communications here. While memes have always been around, I think we’re seeing a shift in the way memes are perceived, especially to the general public. We now see more and more average Singaporeans finding this relatable.”
The founders share that they are inspired to eventually start a social media-centric business, where those like SGAG have gone on to become full-fledged creative agencies. “A successful comedy-based company has to strike the right balance between being a creator and being an agency.”