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January 13, 2016

Why we Need to Say Goodbye to the Political Meme.

obama meme

It’s everywhere. With every scroll. With every click.

It’s become our primary form of communication. The trump card in every debate. The confirmation bias that we guzzle like water.

It’s taken over my page, taken a big bite and swallowed it whole.

I’m talking about political memes on Facebook.

Seriously, when did this become our shoebox to stand on, to holler and pound our chest? Snide, sarcastic, biting, they can make any political figure look exactly how we want them to, or need them to in order to confirm our bias.

They’re quick, easy, and require little thought: It’s the argumentative equivalent of fast food.

A picture of a millennial at a Bernie Sanders rally? Perfect for my opinion that this generation wants everything handed to them. Donald Trump with his mouth open, bellowing at a crowd just off camera? Here’s the chance to remind everyone that he said he wanted to date his daughter. We grab them from the political pages we “like,” share them, and bask in the glow as our similar minded friends click that like button and revel in the knowledge that everyone on the other side of the ledger fumes when they see it. If we’re lucky we’ll goad them into everybody’s favorite: the Facebook argument.

A cyber version of Jerry Springer where we copy and paste more facts to back up the meme that we… well, copy and pasted.

How, does this help anyone?

Granted, Facebook is rarely helpful (those time lapse recipe videos aside) but this is bordering on toxic.

I’m liberal, I’ll make no bones about. And right now, a meme worshipping the NRA or some cowboy burrowed deep in a bird sanctuary is enough to set me off. But I realize it works both ways, just because I gloss over the “pro democratic” posts doesn’t make them any better.

As a nation, there’s a gaping hole between the left and the right. And while we’re normally cornered off with either CNBC or Fox News, Facebook has become the common ground, a battleground. We’re there, this is where we wage war.

But why fire an opening salvo like this? A mocking picture with words that does everything but yell at those of the other affiliation, “come at me bro?” We bemoan congress for not crossing party lines, for republicans blocking everything on President Obama’s agenda simply because he’s blue and they’re red (yes, it goes the other way too).

But don’t we do the same thing in our every day life? For many of us, Facebook is our largest public forum, and I don’t think there’s many of us representing our political side very well. If we have something to say, great, it’s what Facebook is there for. But let’s be eloquent, let’s reach out, find some middle ground, have a discussion rather than slinging insults and posting superfluous memes. If it means that much to you, surely you have five minutes to tap out a post that will invite discussion, but not animosity.

Maybe I’m just living in a dream world. After all, I’m living in a reality where I’m holding out hope for Bernie Sanders. But I’d love to see us come together.

Black, white, blue, red, left, right, and discuss rather than fight.

So join me. If you want to stand with the NRA and ranchers in Oregon, great, that’s your right. This is America (or ‘merica if you prefer). Or stand with Bernie and #feelthebern. But do it in a way that represents those you support well.

Do it with honor and respect, because when we come off as quarrelling six year olds fighting over a toy, the gap between us only grows wider. And that helps no one.

 

 

 

 

 

Author: David Cannamore

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Post Memes at Flickr 

 

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