Memes and Me

"A movement of peace can travel around the world as fast as a movement of hate (1)."
Lame meme- Carol L. Paur; Cat image - Microsoft

During Teachers' Conferences, a teacher asked, "Why are there sticky notes all over with your face on them?"


"I don't know," I replied but wondered if there were darts poking through them.


She laughed and said that I've been Memed. "Don't worry, that means the kids like you?"


Does it? My image is being used with a whole bunch of stupid quotes?



THIS GETS ME VERY NERVOUS


Memes, not to be confused with "me" have been around for a long time. They are defined as a thought that becomes a fixture in the culture (2). Today, memes are used for message transmission throughout the Internet, especially for marketing or political campaigns as well as entertainment.


My daughters spend hours looking through different meme sites or creating their own memes and posting them on social media. They have fun, but memes are not always about fun and games.


Monkey image-Pixabay; Lame meme-Carol L. Paur

There's a woman on YouTube, they call her the Kombucha Girl, who became famous after sampling the beverage. Someone took her facial expressions and created memes. She lost her job at a bank and some of the memes were not very nice. Sure, she's famous, but there was a cost.


What makes it worse is meme creators are often anonymous.


Importantly, as memes are shared they shed the context of their creation, along with their authorship. Unmoored from the trappings of an author’s reputation or intention, they become the collective property of the culture. As such, memes take on a life of their own, and no one has to answer for transgressive or hateful ideas(3)."

Let me translate: Who let the meme out?


Pig image-Microsoft; Lame meme-Carol L. Paur

I'm not against good, wholesome entertainment. I am opposed to memes which make fun or demean others. I also am not a fan of people using my image without my permission.


My daughter says my image is all over the Internet so people should be able to do with them whatever they want. Really?



When memes or the subjects of a meme are used for commercial purposes without permission, the meme creator may sue, as the effect of the commercial use on the market value of the original meme usually prevents a finding of fair use. In 2013, the owners of the cats featured in the “Nyan Cat” and “Keyboard Cat” memes won a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and 5th Cell Media for respectively distributing and producing a video game using images of their cats (4)."

Which leads to my next point. Once you release something into the Internet, it's like releasing a burlap bag full of dandelion seeds. Just watch the weeds sprout. We all need to understand that what we throw out there will not disappear after the spring rains. The Internet is like the person who refuses to give up a grudge.


Photo and lame meme-Carol L. Paur

Should memes be banned? No. Like all things, they have their good and bad. Many of them reveal universal truths that transcend cultures. Not only that but one study found that memes might be a great way of educating students (5). There are also universities offering Meme Studies (6). I think that would be an interesting way to learn about our culture.


However, as you're digesting a steady diet of memes, remember most of the images have been altered to fit a theme and can be used to distort the truth. They also perpetuate stereotypes such as the "Karen" meme/myth. True, there might be women named Karen who feel entitled, but reducing it down to a meme disses other women named Karen.


Finally, if you're a meme creator, be nice. The cliché, What goes around comes around, is often true.


“Memes are a way to spread ideas but you need to put some thought into what you share. If it’s making a joke, is it at another person or group’s expense? Would forwarding this meme benefit a movement or company? Is it worth replicating (7)?”

Thank you for reading. See you next time!


Please check out my latest YouTube - Talking to Myself.


 

References

  1. Keep, L., 2020. From Kilroy to Pepe: A Brief History of Memes | PBS. [online] Independent Lens. Available at: <https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/from-kilroy-to-pepe-a-brief-history-of-memes/> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

  2. Ibid.

  3. Young Post. 2021. Why do memes matter? A look at the good, the dank, and the viral. [online] Available at: <https://www.scmp.com/yp/discover/lifestyle/features/article/3065773/why-do-memes-matter-look-good-dank-and-viral> [Accessed 15 March 2021].

  4. Intellectual Freedom Blog. 2021. Memes, Fair Use, and Privacy - Intellectual Freedom Blog. [online] Available at: <https://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=16873> [Accessed 15 March 2021].

  5. Harshavardhan, V., David Wilson D and Kumar, M., 2019. Humour Discourse in Internet Memes: An Aid in ESL Classrooms. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 29(1), pp.41-53.

  6. Weiss, S., 2021. This College Is Offering Classes About Memes. [online] Teen Vogue. Available at: <https://www.teenvogue.com/story/uc-berkeley-meme-studies-department> [Accessed 16 March 2021].

  7. Keep, L., 2020. From Kilroy to Pepe: A Brief History of Memes | PBS. [online] Independent Lens. Available at: <https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/from-kilroy-to-pepe-a-brief-history-of-memes/> [Accessed 16 February 2021].

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