What Do Ya’ Meme?I’ve seen them, used them, tweeted them and liked them on Facebook. Who knew they were called memes? So I thought, let me ask my three 20-something year old girls. “Hey, have you girls ever heard of the word meme?” They all replied sarcastically, “No mom, we don’t teach dental hygiene!” (I’m a dental hygiene instructor). “YES! I know something you girls don’t. A meme is an offspring just like you girls. You girls originated from part of me and part of dad to become a person that has selectively mutated into something similar but different. You could be seen as polite or rude, good or bad, correct or incorrect. And then, if you catch on, become popular, every man will want to marry you to create your own little memes.” By this time I have lost them and I am standing there alone. (Hmmm, a perfect opportunity for a selfie to create a meme). Seriously, how can we not talk about memes without a wee bit of humour? However, the comments by Sarah Kendzior are anything but funny. When I got to this reading, which was last, I was surprised to see a serious discussion of memes. Personally, there have been many times I have come across a meme and thought, oh no, this is wrong. Don’t people have better things to do with their time? Sarah Kendzior reminds us of that, if not within her commentary, but by the title alone, “The power of the meme. Although memes are a useful way to parody politics, they often lose track of what’s at stake” Firstly, I have to agree with Kendzior; she’s a woman and we stick together. She has a PhD; she must know what she’s talking about. She has a thought provoking blog; it’s a must read. And obviously, she makes some extremely valid points. She describes the population of St Louis as they are waiting to use the Internet at the local library as, “…the 23 per cent of Missourians who lack regular Internet access, who live outside the meme”. They don’t have this access to read, create, retweet, or like a meme never mind even knowing what it is. It isn’t the average everyday John Q. Public inventing or using memes. She goes on to comment that to understand memes people need, at the least, Internet access; technological ability; political understanding and/or the wherewithal and time to understand it; better yet, the desire to even care. “…memes can be self-defeating” . Sarah references reporter Ari Melber of the Nation, discussing the Meme election. In this article, Melber reports, “While candidates have always worried about gaffes, this year’s nominees must navigate the first Meme Election” (Melber). Memes are created by reporters, those that are constantly active and participate on social media. They have been able to create ideas and images that detract from the seriousness of politics, making the issues at hand second to the blunders made by those that are working for a nation. She also recognizes that even though the reporters that create these memes maybe be better than those lining up at the library to use the Internet, the former still must compete with political and economic inability. Reporters portray this false sense of close political involvement by way of memes. “Desperate for relevance, reporters scoop up memes, so much cheaper (in every way) than facts” (Kendzior, 2012, October 12). Kendzior makes you feel sorry for these reporters who are trying to survive by making fun of politician’s misfortunes and then trying to fool the public in to believing they are “relevant” and “mainstream”. However, is it the power of the meme or the power of the media that makes us forget the real issues? Sarah argues that the power of the meme makes the public forget the real issues at hand. Here I disagree. It’s the media; don’t they make the memes? She alludes to the fact that reporters are the people that are disillusioned into thinking that they are important in the political arena by the way of creating memes.
Memes have a way of making innocent pictures guilty of racism. They make the sweet expression of a child appear evil. Whether cute or vulgar, memes are mutated to gather attention at the same time providing anonymity for those creating them. Should we care? Absolutely! Would you say or share it with a friend or stranger offline? No? Then you should care when posting, liking, tweeting or creating memes online.