Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Meme Me

Memes everywhere - silly, ugly, bigoted, ignorant, wise, profound, cats, you name it.

It seems our world is slowly being reduced into simple bite size chunks of information. This can be a great way to attract our attention and provoke us to read, research and ruminate, in order to grow and become better humans. On the other hand, it does little to expand our knowledge and broaden our perspectives, as most people either give it a quick glance, instantly decide if it agrees with their current paradigm and perhaps click the appropriate emoticon.

I've resisted the urge to create my own for this reason. It's too easy to be taken out of context and for people to put their own spin on it. However, that's exactly what we all do with just about everything we are exposed to - we see it through OUR eyes and interpret it through OUR paradigm.

It's only when we take the time and are really willing to hear and see, exercising empathy and a willingness to be open to change and growth, that the barrage of memes can be of any real use. Sure, they can help as little reminders to things we already know and agree with, but not when it comes to something that needs to be assessed and processed before passing any judgement on.

We see political, religious, philosophical and social memes, and quickly judge based on the rhetoric that we are already embracing, rather than looking at the deeper story, the context, trying to put aside our biases. But the meme is not designed for that. It's designed to be a fast and often aggressive tool to fire up emotions, divide and polarise.

I am constantly finding myself pausing to reflect on the endless meme stream, making an effort not to judge and allow myself to be swayed by unfounded claims, unchecked "facts', fear-mongering and hate speech. It's not easy!

I now usually post memes with the intention that they will be pondered and perhaps used to inspire further research. I always hope that people will realise that one tiny meme does NOT constitute the entirety of my intelligence, wisdom, experience or biases and react accordingly.

Except for cats. There's always cats.