Memes are both a blessing and a curse. It can be innocent but will make us laugh like this one from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s public kiss at a polo match. However, some take it way too far by making light of heinous events and acts.
This week alone, there were two meme posts that went viral for the wrong reasons. One was a horrible joke relating to an explicit video that circulated on social media involving a teenage victim and four grade 12 rapists. We didn’t watch the video, of course, but some netizens hinted on what happened in their posts and it’s nauseating.
Another post came out after Demi Lovato was rushed to the hospital due to an apparent substance overdose. YouTuber PewDiePie recently shared a meme on his Twitter account which mocked what happened to Demi. He later took it down and apologized, claiming that he “didn’t fully know about the situation.”
Unfortunately, several people would share and stand by this brand of humor. “Lighten up! It’s a dark joke,” they’d say. But it’s not worth it to laugh at the expense of someone else’s pain and suffering.
In those two events we mentioned alone, you’d see just how many blamed the victims. “This young girl shouldn’t have drank with boys, she wanted it to happen.” As for Demi? “Why is she doing drugs in the first place? I thought she was trying to get sober.”
Many people may be looking for an outlet to relieve their stress and forget about the negativity in the world. But you can’t ignore issues like these, regardless of how uncomfortable they are, by normalizing them through tasteless jokes.
Before you create a meme post, think if you’re doing this for the right reasons. Don’t make it offensive just to get a reaction. Memes can be simple yet smart, not degrading.
As for the topics, just don’t touch on rape, suicide, mental illness, and targeting certain races (among many other offensive things). If you think you’re witty and worth the likes and retweets because of jokes about these, then you’re not thinking clearly about what people might feel. All that matters for you is to troll and get social media virality.
If you’re someone who sees such memes, remember not to feed the trolls and their egos. Report the offensive posts, don’t share them even if you want to give commentary. Don’t even click a reaction or comment on their posts. Don’t give them traction anymore. Do what you can to take the posts down and let people help you. It might sound like a small thing to do but it’ll mean a lot to the victims and people who’ve gone through similar situations.
Art by Marian Hukom
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