We, at-least I, never heard of a word memes, 4 years back. And now-a-days I’m receiving around 10-15 memes everyday through WhatsApp groups and another handful in Facebook pages. The Wikipedia states that it was coined 41 years ago. With affordable internet and spike in user count, it became Lingua Franca in the Social Media. It’s a living (!!) example for the adage, image speaks louder than words.
For the uninitiated few, they are nothing but few words super-imposed on a picture. Usually the underlying picture would be popular and the wordings depict either news, fact, joke, troll or creator’s comment on them.
What is the secret formula for a meme to be viral? It’s simple you have to carefully choose a wordings and etch it on a picture of famous movie scene or a trending image. Only condition the background image should be a popular and should suit the wordings that lies in foreground. It’s easier said than done. With googling the term, we end up having so many sites – database for memes and generators. Some of the big media houses like NYMag or Time covered top memes of 2016, this shows their popularity. Can’t keep Reddit away from viral phenomena, rightly so Redditors is building a stock market of memes.
But, why? We, the millennial, the largest users of internet, wants everything to be fast; from food to movies. We want instantaneous result to every thing that we indulge in. By the same logic, spending time to read a full news reading news is waste of time (duh!!) and the alternative is to going behind memes. And we are regularly supplied through the SM universe – Twitter, Facebook & WhatsApp, to name a few.
In TN, the memes became ultra popular with the string of controversial political events, protests followed the events and of course, movies. Many of my friends having no prior political awareness are commenting on political events, thanks to the viral phenomena. It’s a good thing for everyone to have their own comments on politics. The memes are contributing to the change where the conventional journalism failed.
What went wrong? Off late there are few of FB pages which are interpreting events in outright wrong manner through their memes. To name a few asking for seclusion when some the state didn’t received grants from central government, equating free WiFi with food, henceforth demanding free food. Spreading FUD by sharing unverified news/gossips and creating unforeseen panic situation. And trolling is becoming a trend these days. Trolls are the trendy name for modern-day bullies, especially in cyber space. We have come across quite a few instances, even the big celebrities fell victim for the trolls.
The journalism in democracy is vulnerable to corruption, yet they comes under ambit of regulation. The conventional press can’t go scot-free after publishing false/fake news. But our new-age-journalists-aka-meme-creators enjoy unregulated free space to publish whatever they want. These MCs (short for meme creators) hold unlimited power of social media and holding no responsibility.
The MCs should be conducting themselves with responsibility or the government think tanks should come up with some regulation over them. Or, the more pragmatic way is to consume memes only for humor and put the MCs back to place where they belong.
The changes are not always good.