For the record: I am NOT singling Joss Wheden out with this post. I love Joss. This just came across my facebook feed and kinda of got me thinking about Meme culture in general. And I’m no Psychologist, so take this for what it’s worth.
While the quote above from Joss Whedon isn’t a meme in and of itself, it is indicative of the “meme-ization” of any bit of pithy wisdom or marginally controversial statement. Hell, I don’t even know that Joss Whedon actually said this, but it’s got his name on it, and that lends it a credibility that it would otherwise not have. But whether he did or didn’t actually say this is not the point of this post.
I hate memes like this. They tend to do exactly what so many people purport not wanting to happen, which is categorize and marginalize a segment of a population based on a belief. Generalized statements like this are terrible. “Science” has become so corrupted by money and politics that I’m basically down to gravity, motion, and cats falling on their feet as basic scientific truths. Anything else seems to be open to interpretation based on which “scientist” you talk to.
But that’s neither here nor there.
Political memes designed to embarrass a candidate or viewpoint, or even a party in general, based on what is usually an over-simplification of an otherwise innocuous statement or point of view, are running rampant across the internet this election season, and their “wisdom” is being taken at face value, as true beyond contest, when the reality is normally anything but.
The meme has replaced critical thinking. Think about that: a skill that brought man fire, the wheel, flight, medicine, space travel, philosophy, and literature, has been replaced by 5-second sound bites, 140 character tweets, and the aforementioned meme. All of which allow for only a black or white discussion. There is no middle ground, no nuance; it is the truest form of binary in society today. You are either with us or against us; you are either pro or anti LGBTQ; pro or anti-abortion; Democrat or Republican…
It never ends, but continues to grow so long as a quote (or purported quote) can be made to support your belief, while simultaneously discrediting any alternate belief without discussion. Memes are a form of digital bullying, if you will, designed to stifle opposition to the memer through belittling or aggressive behavior.
I suppose I shall just have to do follow the advice of one of the very first memes, from before memes were even a thing:
At least science tells me he’ll land on his feet.