Internet memes: love them, hate them

Oh, social media, you entertain us on myriad levels. As a frequent Facebook user I am subjected to Internet memes on a daily basis. Sometimes they are inspiring and funny, other times they are annoying and infuriating. I rarely comment on the ones I find offensive or misleading, but two memes I recently saw compelled me to respond.

The first:

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This image was posted by ClashDaily.com with Doug Giles with the following hash tags: #‎irs ‪#‎nsa ‪#‎benghazi ‪#‎doj ‪#‎fastnfurious ‪#‎scandals

If the guy who posted this and all the hateful commenters had done a minimal amount of research, they would know the “scandals”—IRS, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, and Solyndra—were overblown, in particular with regard to allegations of direct White House involvement or malfeasance. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be investigations or at least assessments about what went wrong in these situations.  Darrell Issa, however, in his zealousness, has made repeated attempts to connect the White House (e.g. – President Obama) to these incidences, with little success. On the other hand, the NSA surveillance issue has major privacy implications and should be investigated thoroughly.

Still, conservative calls for Obama to resign are hypocritical. We heard nary a peep from these same quarters when George W: lied about weapons of mass destruction, started a war of choice that was a major disaster on so many levels—both financial and in American and Iraqi lives; allowed the torture (illegal) of suspected terrorists; and surveilled Americans without warrants through telecom companies.

The Obama bashing in the comments section was disgusting to say the least. Liberals are good at bashing the other side too, so I do not expect a different standard of online conduct from conservatives, though reasoned disagreement instead of slinging insults would be nice from everyone. Yeah, I know, I’m living in a fantasy world.

The second meme was posted and shared several times on Facebook: “You tell me…what’s the difference?”

meme

Let me tell you the difference.

The difference is that while both killings are tragedies, the police in Charleston did their job and arrested the killers of this white teenager and conducted a solid investigation. However, the same cannot be said in the case of Trayvon Martin. In fact, the Florida police in that community gave a collective yawn over the killing of an unarmed black teenager, basically slapping Zimmerman on the wrist and sending him home that same night, and only further investigating the murder after a national outcry.

The difference is not that a black child received national attention while a white child was ignored. If that is the argument some are trying to make, then one could refute it by pointing out that when girls/young women go missing in the United States and receive national media attention, they are mostly white. Missing white woman syndrome (MWWS) is a phrase coined by social scientists and media commentators to describe the “wall-to-wall coverage” given in media reporting, especially television, to missing person cases involving young, white, upper-middle class women or girls. Examples are here, here, here, and here.

When I researched this meme further, I discovered that the woman who created it did so because it hit close to home, not because of the racial component and media attention that many people have been suggesting. Still, the fact that she created it and asked the question about the “difference” makes one question her motive; it does seem to suggest a racial bias message.

Memes, political ones in particular, create quick impressions by fusing images with words and phrases that incite the emotions, causing us to respond very quickly to a post without taking a moment to pause about why it resonates so strongly with us, be it positively or negatively. The two memes I discuss in this post, are relatively tame; many others are not. Use  caution on social media and understand what it is you are “liking” and/or sharing before doing so. Remember, it’s your reputation out there in cyberspace.

Read both stories here:

Cross-posted at The Feisty Liberal

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One thought on “Internet memes: love them, hate them

  1. Internet memes are quite possibly the worst form of “communication” (and I use that word lightly) to ever spawn from the digital age. They indicate an extreme laziness on the part of those who use them too express ideas.

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