Role and Purpose of Memes
In the modern era, teenagers and millennials spend their free time scrolling through memes and videos to bring entertainment to themselves. While memes can be easily created and vary in nature, they are many people’s go-to for happiness, smiles, time-pass and in some cases, even information.
Types of Memes
(+) Memes are often like an easy and simple rip-off of newspaper caricatures to spread a message. Memes greatly vary in nature, with some being wholesome, and actually funny, to absolutely senseless and oddly stupid-yet-funny humor. They even go as far as spreading information about history and politics.
(-) On the negative side of memes, where things start to get unacceptable is when memes bring about humor by reducing the seriousness of issues such as depression, autism, school-shootings, anxiety, suicide etc into mere memes and jokes.
(-) There are also memes that mock religious concepts- not via facts, but rather by blasting them out of context, and exerting one’s own flawed conceptual opinion regarding it.
It is these memes that cross the line and bring harm to the society in levels that actual viewers so openly deny and suppress the voice of the victims these memes attack.
Following will be brief text on understanding the impact of factually inaccurate religious memes followed by understanding the impact of memes that glorify depression, suicide, anxiety etc.
Deeper understanding on the impact of blasphemous and factually inaccurate religious memes
While a segment of viewers of such memes argue in favor of the memes by saying that it’s obvious these memes are fake, and solely made for entertainment- it’s stupid if people actually believe in this information to be true.
It is an undeniable fact that while a section of viewers don’t let their perceptions get altered by such memes, a much larger section of viewers obtain their knowledge about religions via such memes. I personally believe that such memes, along with the media’s uncontrolled and undeserved freedom, are the causes to rise in Islamophobia.
While people who defend such content might have a Utopian belief that people will get productive and constantly check facts upon seeing a religious meme to not be misguided, in the real world- barely anyone is going to do this and naturally will develop an offensive viewpoint of the victimized religion.
People all around the world who’re exposed to such content have similar notions on Islam, which coincidentally matches that of meme content as well. (so called) Islamic terrorism. Definition of Jihad. Islamic women oppression etc. are all common beliefs of such people, whereas in the Quran- nothing that promotes this sort of content is to be found.
Viewers might call their promotion of such content ‘sarcasm’ and others may insult the offended with statements like ‘can’t you take a simple joke?’, there are even those who take their flawed knowledge outside the world of memes to insult and mock Muslims solely for their identity. While many non-Muslims and Muslims themselves might claim that they don’t believe that the information in such memes is facts but still continue to promote it anyways for the sake of entertainment, they are ignoring the damage they are causing to the face of Islam and to the safety of Muslims.
One such example of flawed ideology through such memes is on the concept of Jihad, while many believe that Jihad refers to ‘religious war’, it actually means ‘to resist’ something, and the concept of Jihad was introduced to Muslims much before any war took place during the time of Quranic revelation. Jihad includes things like resisting the urge to commit sins, staying away from alcohol and other wants that are Haram, resisting our desires. Not what memes and the media show it as.
Another set of ‘Islamic memes’ also portrays mockery and misconceptions to viewers, an example of such memes is as follows-
In the eyes of a non-Muslim, such a meme would bring an impression that Islam commands you to do nothing but worship and your marks and worldly goals don’t matter at all. Which however, is nothing close to reality. Islam actually forbids 100% religious devotion and asks you to make use of the worldly benefits (while avoiding the prohibited things of course) and work and put in effort for success and stability in this world as well as the hereafter.
Understanding the impact of memes that glorify depression, anxiety, fear, insecurities and suicide
In the current generation, depression and suicide are becoming more common day by day, and memes that glorify it are adding fuel to the fire. Kids and teenagers turn towards such meme content to dramatize their sadness and show their loss of will to continue living. While the problem might be as small as them being yelled at, umpteen number of depression memes will be referred to for ‘entertainment’ which would slowly and effectively deplete the persons mental state further.
Due to this normalization of depression and suicide, in the case someone actually suffers from clinical depression or is legitimately at the verge of suicide, it is not taken seriously and also labelled as ‘dramatization’ because of how normalized it has become due to memes and misconceptions. It is as if ‘wolf!’ has been shouted too many times by sadists and the actual innocent victims suffer negligence due to it.
Such memes also have the potential of triggering ones insecurities and sadness. While a person could be scrolling memes in a happy mood, coming across a meme under this category can fuel negative feelings, thoughts, memories and overthinking- resulting to unnecessary sadness.
Memes are a great source of spreading messages and entertainment, but when this entertainment is derived by spreading of blasphemy, flawed concepts, out-of-context information about religions and mental health- it brings down respect and value of the religions and issues and taints an undeserved negative mark on their face in the eyes of many.
While the harms won’t be felt to many of the viewers and makers of such content, only the victims and those whose insecurities get triggered by those who victimize them through these memes and only the Muslims who are insulted for their identity in public can tell you the harms it causes.
Do the society a favor, sway away from such content, the world is in no need of such content- it brings nothing but joy to ignorant viewers at the cost of respect, feelings and safety of others.
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