If you would ask me this question, I would reply with the following answer: “I think more often about the question ‘how many times do you think about the Roman Empire?’ than I think about the Roman Empire itself.” If you know the question, you probably also know that I am talking about a trend here. Let me explain this further.
How it all started
The Roman Empire-question, how I like to call it, started on Instagram by Saskia Cort, a Swedish influencer who also mentions the trend in her bio on Instagram.
The question became a trend on TikTok first, and later returned to Instagram where it was picked up by @GaiusFlavius, according to knowyourmeme.com. The meme stayed the same all the time: a woman asking a man how often he thinks about the Roman Empire. This could be filmed or via text, that does not really matter by this meme. Apparently, thinking about the Roman Empire is a recurring activity for many men and women are surprised by the responses of their husbands, brothers, and male friends. Most of them reply that they think about the Roman Empire on a weekly to a daily basis.
‘Why’ is quite a big question to ask, but a few answers to the big question are given. Firstly, men say they think about this time so often since it is the start of the democracy as we know it nowadays. The fundamentals of our society lay there and thus is the time of the Roman Empire a time that is often thought about. A second reason could be that men are still want to be victors and since the Romans were great conquerors in their time, that era attracts their attention.
Personally, I don’t know whether one of the two is the reason. It might also be the fact that the Roman Empire is a topic that is broadly and vividly talked about, at least here in The Netherlands. Then I do admit the question still is: why do men seem to think about it more often than women?
The meme as a metaphor
Since the meme is so wide spread, it seems to have reached the level of ‘common knowledge’ in the online world. The Roman Empire has become some sort of metaphor for a concept that is regularly thought about. Some sort of ‘meme about a meme’ are the videos that show people sayin: “X is my Roman Empire’, meaning: X (a concept) is something I think as regularly about as men think about the Roman Empire.
From the World Wide Web to the dinner table at home
“So, how often do you think about the Roman Empire?” was the question that raised when there was a slightly awkward silent moment at the dinner table. Most (if not all) of my housemates knew the meme without having the topic discussed together before this question was asked. I don’t remember their answers, but I do know we were all laughing, my male housemates included. I think we may conclude that they too find it strange there is this ‘gap’ between how often they think about the Roman Empire compared to women? Fact is: when I walked to the train station the other day, I heard a man saying: “all the way to the border to the Roman Empire” and I don’t think that was meta-communication about the meme.
It got me wondering: if this is what the men think about on a regular basis, what would be the female version?