Memes: mean or not

DESLENE PRINS


In the dawn of the ever evolving smartphone, we find that social interactions have shifted from being face-to-face to occurring on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and

Facebook. The whole point of a meme is that it is altered and taken out of context to convey an amusing reality. Memes often make use of snapshots of celebrities or people in compromising or embarrassing positions. But there is something universal about memes that make them so appealing to us. A lot of the time, memes make fun of real-life situations, allowing us all the comfort of being able to relate to each other and not feel alone in our struggles. Andria Cindi, a second year student, and Metanoia HK member, believes that memes are a coping mechanism.

“It’s satirical. I think we literally just use it to deal with pain,” she said.

Memes that make fun of serious situations, such as failing a test, she went on to say, help us to see the humour in the situation.

Where do we draw the line on what we consider funny? Kyle McKinnon, a third-year BAcc student, said, “Memes about cancer, suicide, racism, abuse, religion, and rape shouldn’t be funny. Those are all serious matters that might have affected someone and that most people would get offended by.”

However, McKinnon went on to explain that you will still find people that laugh at memes containing such content. McKinnon believes that in those cases no feelings are evoked – that the people laughing at these memes detect feelings from the reality of what they are reading. For others, the reaction that meme creators/sharers get out of creating/sharing controversial memes is funnier than the actual meme. “Jokes are jokes, purely for entertainment,” said McKinnon.

With memes comes the assumption that whatever is being said or joked about, is just that – a joke. But when do we know whether the meme is an exaggerated amusing truth or something that could be considered offensive? One scary thought about memes is that they have a unique ability to indirectly shape public opinion. We are exposed to memes every day. They have become such an integral part in how we communicate and humour each other. Some memes are light-hearted, reminding us not to take life too seriously, whereas others could often have darker origins. However, there is a fine line between making a joke and bullying. Let us enjoy the fruits of our technological advances, while still granting each other dignity and respect.

Photo: Armin Prinsloo

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