To Meme Or Not?
January 23, 2021
Like millions around the world, I got to see the Inauguration of the 46th President of the USA, Joe Biden. I love watching historical events–with all of their pageantry, fanfare, and orchestration. It’s important to be an informed citizen.
Like millions around the world, I got to see famous political dignitaries and rock star entertainers light up the stage with their ambiance. I got to hear the excitement and critique of media reporters and pundits share their perspectives. It’s important to take it all in.
Like millions around the world, I also got to see Senator Bernie Sanders sitting by himself, legs crossed, and with mittens on. Seemingly unbothered, he appeared to be cozy and comfortable in the unforgiving DC winter weather. It’s important to invest in moments of observation and reflection.
Meme of the Day Goes Viral
In case you missed it, this unbothered moment of Bernie Sanders was captured in a still shot and inserted into other images of various settings, often covered in comical captions. The moment became a meme. And then it happened again. And again. And again. Until it went viral and…
The Meme of the Day might have become The Meme of a Lifetime.
And. It. Was. Hilarious!
While one meme had Bernie sitting at the table in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting: The Last Supper, another had Bernie riding in the backseat of the soccer mom’s minivan. Bernie showed up in classrooms, sporting events, family gatherings, and all throughout the entertainment industry. Here a Bernie, there a Bernie, everywhere a Bernie Sanders meme.
And everyone was doing it. And everyone was laughing. And everyone was perpetuating it. And, I’m included in the everyone.
But part of me wondered about the indirect implications.
No Publicity Is Bad Publicity
In the political arena, maybe this was actually a good thing. Maybe his name recognition soared and the comical popularity boosted his brand. After all, Bernie seemed to take it well, almost as if he didn’t care. In fact, in this appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers he seemed unbothered by it all, just as millions of his memes had suggested all along. This is the price you pay for serving in the public arena, right?
So, if Bernie appears to be unbothered by it all, like if he really doesn’t care, and if people could finally have a few laughs in an otherwise stressful 2020 hangover, then… What’s the big deal? I mean…
Who Cares? Does It Really Matter?
No. It doesn’t really matter. It was just a joke.
I mean, it’s probably no big deal.
I don’t know. What do you think?
I’m still thinking this through.
Here Are My Thoughts
I always knew it was possible, and I know that it’s been happening for a long time. Memes are nothing new. I believe that most of the time, the intent is to have a few laughs and just have a little fun. And, what are the funniest, most cherished moments if not shared with our friends, all over the world, in a split second?
But what if our online meme experiences transfer to real life? What if they become personal, or a little bit closer to home? What if we accidentally meme someone who can’t take a joke as well as Bernie, or who didn’t have clarity of intent at first glance? I guess I’m also wondering…
What if The Meme of the Day is about you?
What if it becomes The Meme of your Lifetime?
Hypothetically speaking, perhaps: At any given moment in your life or in the lives of others close to you…
- People can take a video or a picture of you.
- They can take you out of your context and insert you into a context of their choosing.
- They can enhance their new context by adding words of their choosing, thus engineering additional versions of truth.
- They can share their new artiFACT with the world at lightning speed.
- They can construct and co-construct a brand new reality in one click.
- They can do all of this with #nofilter.
Then, it sure is fun. And it’s usually harmless. And it probably won’t happen to you even if you do it to others. Just this one time. And maybe the next. If everyone else is doing it.
Maybe I should just lighten up for once. Maybe I shouldn’t over-analyze all the minutia. I’ve heard it said that educators over-think things all the time. And again, I’m included in the educators.
This is reality.
This is the perpetual normal.
This is the world in which we live.
We have the freedom to express ourselves appropriately, and that overwhelming includes having a little fun once in a while.
Where digital citizenship, learning opportunities, and recreation intersect–therein lies the lives of real people who, of course, are undoubtedly unbothered by the actions of others.