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This article was originally submitted by Zaib Ansari
Memes have swiftly conquered social media in the past few years. They have started to generate such an impact that the effects of their content resonate within the society. And at this point, memes cannot be disregarded as a source of harmless fun.
Good meme content can garner huge following but there should be a limit for everything. Expanding the meme content beyond the bounds of appropriateness may lead to disturbance in some social circles. There are a lot of instances where memes have led to a person or community’s distress. Following are just a few examples of the case in point.
Aunty Gormint became a household name after a video of her cursing the government-in an interview-went viral and a massive meme flood ensued. It got thousands of views on YouTube alone and the statistics of Facebook shares would be similar.
The woman and her family suffered the consequence of this virality. She became a joke nationally and internationally. Her relatives boycotted her, and the family had a hard time looking for good proposals for the daughters and that’s how some ‘harmless fun’ ended up tormenting an entire family.
Allama Zameer Akhter Naqvi
Allama Zameer Akhter Naqvi, a great Shia scholar and author of hundreds of books got famous among the memers’ after the videos of his lectures went viral. And in no time social media was flooded with the infamous ‘ye tou hoga’ memes.
Social media, a strong source for disseminating information, took these memes to the Allama himself and he seemed hurt. In an interview, he mentioned how the youth has developed a hobby of turning everything into a joke. To prove his claim, he challenged the host to post the interview on Facebook; see how people would flood the comment section of his post with memes. And he was right, that video did turn into a meme as well.
Allama Zameer Akhter Naqvi was highly reputed in the Shia community. While some people may have taken these memes light-heartedly, some might have not. And people did cross the line in making memes on such learned individual; possibly hurting the sentiments of the entire Shia circle.
Memes on signs of Qayamat
Quite frequently, memes on Dajjal, Yajooj Majooj or the sun rising from the west pop up on our newsfeed. All these are among the signs of Qayamat-The Day of Judgement. To make jokes out of them would mean normalizing them. As joking about something serious normalizes it – it makes the audience accustomed to its content to the point; where it becomes a part of their life.
Formerly, people were deterrent of talking about these signs casually. But recent years have seen a surge in nonchalant attitude towards them. Instead of being scared of the signs, people these days are more likely to laugh them away; owing to the soft image painted by the memes. Hence, making and sharing such content could be negating the purpose; behind our elders telling us about these signs and may make us ignorant to their severity.
The Karachi Stock Exchange Attack
Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi came under attack; in the latter part of June but fortunately, the perpetrators of it were gunned down; within 8 minutes of the initial attack.
People took to memes, yet again, to express their triumph; on this victory, and once more, social media flooded with #PSXattack memes. While some of the memes may have been acceptable, some of them were morbidly inappropriate. These memes, disgracing the terrorists’ dead bodies, were not only grotesque, but they nullified the teachings of our religion as well.
There’s nothing wrong with laughing at memes here and there. But problems arise when jokes hurt the people who are at the receiving end of them. They become an issue when they disregard the basics of morality and become outright offensive.
We are at a point where we have stopped questioning; the rights and wrongs and have developed a habit of scrolling down and completely ignoring; the idea of evaluation and discussion of activities that could be affecting our society. And if this doesn’t change, our society could end up being completely void; of ethics and become inherently exclusive for certain groups.