I’m prefacing this article by saying I’m not a meme hater. Who didn’t love the Ryan Gosling ‘Hey girl‘ memes? Even straight men can appreciate the humor. Lately, though, memes are becoming a lot more, well, mean.
If you’re not familiar, Dictionary.Com defines a meme as a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc. that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way. The fine line is when humor crosses into cruelty.
Memes often poke fun at people’s looks, comparing them to animals or pointing out imperfections. Surely, shouldn’t we be done dealing with bullying after high school? Nope. After you make it as a celebrity? Not even then. In fact, celebrities are usually the target of memes. Sometimes, it’s celebs even spreading the memes.
Snoop Dogg posted a meme (removing it soon after following the backlash) on Twitter targeting Iggy Azalea. While he might not have started out with cruel intentions, she didn’t see it that way, firing back “… its like the guy that asks for your number and then says you ugly and a (expletive) when you say no …,” among her many other responses on Twitter. Additionally, did Azalea or anyone stop to think that the person in this photo is a real person too? A real person with real feelings.
When posting on social media, it’s best to heed the Golden Rule before posting. There are plenty of nice celebrities to look to for encouragement. The below examples are not memes from stars, but are examples of human decency that we can incorporate when creating memes.
After a ‘fan’ told Selena Gomez to ‘burn in hell with cancer’ on Twitter, Selena killed them with kindness. She responded on Twitter, “… You can dislike someone but to wish something that could happen to you or your family is uncalled for sweetheart. You won’t be winning anyone’s heart that way. Trust me. Educate yourself a tad more. God bless love. Be an amazing woman. You’re beautiful.” Now that’s a mature comment from a young woman.
Selena Gomez’s friend Taylor Swift didn’t name names when she had a celeb hater who was unkind to Taylor. Instead, she made the one-sided feud literally pay off for her by penning and singing “Bad Blood”. The rest of us might not make millions, or anything, off bullying or feuds, but we can find a way to channel that negativity into something positive.
Zooey Deschanel, in an interview with George Gurley from Marie Claire, explained why her site, Hello Giggles, doesn’t allow cruel comments or cursing. “I just felt it’s important to teach young girls to be strong people, to not think, I can’t do this because I’m worried about what people will say,” she was quoted as saying.
At the risk of sounding too preachy, I’m standing on my stool and shouting out that we need to not use social media as another tool to bully. Online bullies are still bullies (they’re just hiding behind a computer and don’t have to face their victim). If ‘Will Smith don’t gotta cuss in his raps to sell records‘, you can certainly create popular memes without being a dic#. I dare you.