Memes are a recent phenomenon born out of the connection between masses of people on the Internet. Any concept or idea that virally spreads across the internet can be considered a meme; however, the word “internet meme” is most commonly associated with a picture and humorous caption.
Since these ideas spread virally, they are a common occurrence on the web and a fan favorite for spreading whatever kind of humor an individual is interested in. With the intense passion and opinion associated with this election cycle, Internet memes are being used as a medium to express political opinion, attack opposing views and establish a sort of dominance over other political ideas.
Using memes to express political views is not necessarily a problem because it has some level of effectiveness and is the chosen way of communication between most young participants online. However, there is a problem when memes are the only way a person expresses his or her political beliefs.
Memes originate from one person, while the rest of the audience or participants simply recycle the picture in an effort to show it to others within their circle.
When posing ideas, arguments or political discussions, it is fantastic to see a humorous thought that seems to perfectly align with your own views and values. However, when a meme is posted, it becomes obvious it is a recycled idea not originating from the person posting it. Also, memes are rather short, void of full explanations and tend to leave holes in logic when met with any serious opposition.
With a Facebook page or Instagram account full of short, funny and generally hostile Internet memes, a person can feel they express their opinion perfectly. People believe a meme cannot be met with real opposition, especially because a joke has already been established and they can simply continue to ridicule dissention instead of countering it.
With no real content originating from the person posting, folks display a lack of ability to express what they believe in their own words.
Internet memes are great in their own right and once you find one you enjoy, they become a great source of amusement. Using memes for politics is not all bad.
It’s amazing how our political process has evolved to include this new medium for expressing ideas. If coupled with a person’s own arguments and views, memes can even be effective in fully sharing individual opinions with the world and sparking meaningful, constructive discussion between people.