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Have you visited your social media pages today? Of course you have. And in so doing, you undoubtedly ran across at least a couple of memes. If it were not for memes, social media might not even exist. Memes might very well be the most prolific form of communication of these modern times.
Memes are so popular you can get them printed on your T-shirts. Indeed, you can visit the Five Dollar T-Shirts website and find dozens of different meme options. Some are clever, some are challenging, and others are downright offensive. It really depends on your point of view.
The thing about memes is that they are not one-size-fits-all by nature. They are all things to all people and yet nothing to everyone. To help illustrate the point a bit more clearly, check out the good, bad, and ugly of memes below.
One of the things we most like about an entertaining meme is its ability to convey a clever message. What might take a writer several paragraphs to discuss in a blog post can be illustrated quite clearly in a single sentence composed as a meme. Better yet, it doesn’t even have to be a grammatically correct sentence. Sometimes just one or two words is enough to get the point across.
Memes are good in the sense that they convey timely messages in bite-size chunks. They give people whose voices might otherwise be left unheard a platform through which to speak. That platform could be a T-shirt, a social media post, etc.
A funny meme can make you laugh. A sad meme can make you cry. A good meme evokes some sort of reaction regardless of what that reaction might be.
As good as memes can be, they can be bad as well. How so? For starters, it is not unusual for a meme to be completely misinterpreted by someone who doesn’t understand its meaning. That could lead to further misunderstandings that cause disagreements, arguments, and even fights.
Sometimes memes are also used as a way to practice one’s passive aggressive tendencies. This isn’t good either. A passive aggressive person is someone who does not have the fortitude to be transparent and honest about his thoughts and feelings. He might use a meme to say what he is too scared to utter with his mouth.
Last but not least is the ugly side of the meme. Unfortunately, some people believe that memes give them an excuse to behave rudely, obnoxiously, or downright nastily. Some of the more recent memes relating to the coronavirus pandemic – on both sides, by the way – illustrate the point perfectly.
There are ways to express controversial points of view without being nasty. There are ways to politely debate issues without insulting other people. Unfortunately, far too many people use memes to lash out and attack. This should never be acceptable regardless of the platform.
If there is something so rude and offensive that a person would not speak it, it is too rude and offensive to put on a T-shirt or a baseball cap. If more people would practice a bit of decency and respect in this regard, some of the nastiest memes probably wouldn’t exist.
Memes and Free Speech
When you boil down the meme to its most basic concept, what you have is a medium of free speech. Whether one appreciates a particular meme or not, the fact is we still have the freedom to speak as we please in this country. Perhaps that’s the best aspect of the meme altogether.