I almost texted someone this morning. It was a little playful, kind of heartfelt, and bordered on sappy. But then I thought better of it.
Why? Because a meme that rolled across my screen suggested it was a BAD idea. It had a photo of a rear view mirror and some shit about letting go and moving forward. If you have to ask, you know the answer, blah blah blah. You get the idea.
Oddly enough, that text a month earlier would’ve gotten sent with lightning speed. Why? Because a different meme said it was a GREAT idea. If I recall, this one had butterflies, maybe a cat, and a couple of newlyscrewds gazing at a sunset. It said something about hanging on tight when you find the one, heartbeats, and a blurb about condoms.
Do I hold on? Do I move on? What do I do? Is one meme truer than another? I don’t know whether to shit or go blind!
I do not actually run my life based on trending memes, but it got me thinking.
Have you noticed how many unsolicited tips are out there every day, telling us how to interact, what to eat, when to eat, and that all this time, we’ve been doing it wrong?
Hell—who needs therapists? Social media life-guides are available for free. Love, friendship, money… every aspect of our lives can be improved with a simple 700 X 700 photo of wisdom. And it’s all good advice, right?
I’ll admit, occasionally one hits me right in the feels or at a moment when I really need it. Others make me laugh so hard that I spit out my drink. Yet, aside from the inspira-memes, feel-goods, and laugh-hards, they’ve taken on a few jobs I’m not crazy about.
Centuries ago, actors used plays, and sometimes, puppets to talk about uncomfortable, or even dangerous things. I don’t mean like a “Show me on the puppet where he touched you,” puppet, but back then, saying certain things aloud could’ve been lethal.
These days, memes have become a sort of 21st century puppet show. A way to say things, share jokes, or spread ideas that people don’t want to just come out and say directly. If the comment string gets too hot, blame the meme, not the one who shared it. But should it really give a degree of separation if you say something really tacky, even downright mean, because it’s pasted over a puppy pic?
Similar to the Mouthpiece role, memes are also great for putting words in someone else’s mouth. Like a photoshop, cut-and-paste ventriloquist, we can easily slap whatever dumbass quotes onto whomever we want, click share, and watch the sparks fly. Usually it’s a celebrity or political figure, but with the right group fanning the flames, half the planet will believe the sweet kid from whatever movie is actually the Antichrist. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Sometimes, fake quotes are well-intentioned, but rarely did they come from the person’s mouth in the photo. What did George Clooney say about the car I drive? How does Denzel know anything about my work/life balance? Maybe some dating tips from Ryan Gosling would be helpful.
Ahhh, the know-it-alls. The enlightened ones. Before the internet, these were simply known as “they”. As in, “you know what they say” or “they’ve proven that you’ll go blind if you keep doing that.” Only now, THEY, the experts on everything…have faces. And they often make you feel a little “more dumberer” than they are.
Morpheus, from The Matrix
Willy Wonka, from duh.
Ned Stark, from Game of Thrones
The Most Interesting Man in the World, from Dos Equis.
and the little green toad of riddles, Yoda.
Seriously, I love Yoda as much as the next person, but if he can sense a butterfly fart from another galaxy, how could he not notice the two main bad guys under his nose the whole time? Perceptive, we are not. Hmmmmm?
Life is full of tough decisions to make, and I can’t pretend to know what the right choices are. Buy or sell. Build or rent. Hold on, or let her go. But something tells me, no matter how smart it sounds, I won’t get the answers by staring at my phone screen.