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This article was originally submitted by Misbah Rasheed
Social Media has become a vital part of our lives. With the world at our fingertips, youngsters today are found more hooked on their screens than on anything else. Be it public places, homes, restaurants or while sitting alone, social media has got full attention.
As a huge chunk of this population comprises of young people, these youngsters are more aware and educated compared to their past generation. Despite this, there seems to be a big wave of toxic culture circulating on social media in the form images that are known as memes.
Memes are images or texts or a combination of both used in a humorous way. These memes are shared instantly by hundreds and thousands of people making the content go viral without even verifying the creator of the content. The people whose pictures are used in the photos are neither asked for consent, not the context in which the picture used is taken into consideration.
Besides being a breach of privacy, the final image shared rather becomes more embarrassing than humorous. Though every other social media user engages into such memes one way or the other no one wants to become one.
There are different reasons why people create and share memes.
While some think that memes are funny and therefore ought to be shared, others find them to be relevant thus communicating their message without using words. After all, what could be better than sending your message across while not taking due responsibility? The eye-catching images and irresistible captions used in a way; to bring clicks, comments and mass sharing can often have a detrimental impact on people.
While some memes do serve a positive purpose; by providing a healthy dose of entertainments, bringing an instant smile or hiding; some silver linings, it is not wrong to say that what is funny for one; can turn out to be very offensive and provocative to the other.
Rather than engaging in healthy discussions, communicating messages clearly, and pointing out; differences, sharing such images with short, witty, sarcastic texts can create big differences. Additionally, these memes indirectly promoting racism, bullying and hatred towards other people and communities.
The celebrity cartoons, cherry-picked conversations of political leaders, or light-hearted media satire often do more harm than good.
What is more important to understand is that if today’s digital era has given us massive opportunities; to explore, speak and connect, it has also doubled our responsibilities. We never know what impact our digital presence creates in the lives of other people.
Every meme can be interpreted in multiple ways and therefore, it has become more important; to be cognizant of the content we create, share and engage in. So how do we make sure that the content; we create and share on our digital channels does not lead to any negative repercussions? Well, here a few questions to ask before you engage in a meme:
- What if the person in the meme was I?
- Is this meme targeted towards someone in my contacts?
- Does this meme promote any stereotype or is it just a joke?
- Would I like it if some other person who I know posted this meme?
These are just a few points to take into consideration; when you come across the perfect meme that you just can’t resist sharing. But remember, next time before you post a meme don’t forget to think about the purpose it serves.