Meme Culture: Harmless or Hurtful?
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Politics and Activism

Meme Culture: Harmless or Hurtful?

How meme culture is hurting the way we communicate.

Meme Culture: Harmless or Hurtful?

Without our permission, meme have truly begun to permeate our lives.

From Skai Jackson's smirk being shared around Black Twitter to the two week, "You Name It" phenomenon, we are constantly being bombarded with these hilarious, relatable, and creative picture/word combos. But of course, there is always a chance that a good thing can go bad. With that being said - meme culture is ruining the way we communicate with one another.

I first realized that memes were destroying the way we talk to one another is right after the election. I was talking with a friend (who happens to be of Mexican decent) and simultaneously scrolling through my Instagram feed. Mid-way into our conversation, I came across this meme about deportation.

This brought the conversation to a halt for a moment. We kept trying to figure out how something so seriously terrifying could become the butt of a very cruel joke. And it brought this question up: Why is there an obsession with taking the world's current events and trivializing them for a quick laugh? Is it the constant need for verification by those in social media land? Is it to help us cope by making light of a situation? Who knows. But what these memes are creating is a group of people who don't care enough about what's going on in the world around them to get up and make a change.

Along with not recognizing the seriousness of certain things, memes are using real people to do so. Take for instance one of the newest memes floating around - the honey bun baby.

Leaked by the 22-month old's older brother, the honey bun baby came right after gospel singer Shirley Caesar had everyone looking for everything from beans to lamb on their Thanksgiving table. He was basically the poster boy for leftovers until the memes took a turn. The sayings paired with the photograph went from "When you find extra sweet potato pie in the fridge" to "When he asks what are you doing, and you're in his trunk." From being an innocent and cute meme in its first appearance to being used to convey sexual or disturbing messages, the honey bun baby meme quite is maddening. Why? Because this is a photograph of someone's real, living child, a 2 year old at that. If using a child to distribute lewd messages in real life is considered wrong, how can it be deemed okay in the virtual world living in our social media sites?

My overall disgust for meme culture reached an all-time high recently when I logged onto Facebook and saw different variations of the "Tag (Insert name here)" memes like these here:

One of the most insensitive and vile group of photographs I have ever seen on the internet, these memes, made popular by Facebook page "The British LAD", are not only a form of bullying but body shaming and perpetuating ignorance. These memes are hurtful. Point blank. It doesn't matter if it was supposed to be fun and lighthearted, there is still some sting to it. And although most of these have been removed from Facebook, there are still some previous memes out there that can do the same damage. It's pictures like these that become seared our memories.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't be all memes should be banished to the dark side of the moon. I just believe that we all should be mindful of what we create or share on the internet, where information is ultimately forever. So the next time you go to tag a friend in a meme of something, think "Is this really as harmless as I think it is."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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