Why we should not use memes without understanding

Now, if you open any social media, in few minutes you will see a meme. Many pictures, with words or without. They are spread all over the Internet. Sometimes you do not know its meaning. Sometimes you know. And to my mind, it is better when you know the meaning of a joke. Or if you know their background. Let me give you some examples.

First one. Pepe meme. Pepe the Frog is a frog character from the comic series Boy’s Club by Matt Furie. Firstly, it was just a picture with a frog and words “Feels good man”. Than somebody photoshopped its smile upside down and changed words to “feels bad man”. Pepe could mean anything you wanted to, and at heart, didn’t really mean anything.

As Pepe grew in “mainstream” popularity, some people began to post Pepe the Frog memes with bizarre, offensive and often, outright racist themes. One day Hillary Clinton denounced Pepe the frog as a symbol of hatred. The first reaction to this was just a laugh. Pepe  was marked as an alt-right symbol.  Pepe started to be associated with red pills, convoluted conspiracy theories. When the transformation of meme in media was completed, Pepe was officially branded a hate symbol, by the Anti-Defamation League.

Second one. Russian Anti-Meme Law. This situation refers to the Russian government’s ban on impersonating or sharing doctored images of public figures which influenced relation to their personality or reputation in real life. The policy was introduced in early April 2015 as a direct result of a court decision in Moscow.

Meanwhile, the court ruling and the anti-meme policy were met with heavy ironic reaction from the news media in the West. Various websites and news outlets were banned, such as the Huffington Post, Dailymail UK, Techdirt, Circa, Business Standard, Chicago Tribune, Global Voices Online, NY Daily News, NPR, NewsComAU, Vocativ, and the Washington Post.

In conclusion, before you try to use some meme, firstly find out its meaning and background. And make sure you do not live in Russia.

October 14, 2019

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