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In this age of the internet and social media, we are not unaware of the mass creation and consumption of memes that are produced every day. Meme culture has grown rapidly across all social media platforms, especially in the past few years, and we can hardly imagine life without memes, let alone social media. Whether they are actual content creators making money from meme pages or just someone with a social media account and a sense of humor, everything (and everyone) is turning into a meme these days. While internet memes and jokes aren’t necessarily harmful, they aren’t completely harmless either.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the use of memes on social media platforms. The American Psychological Association explained this increase with a study that showed that memes can “help reduce stress and increase people’s confidence in their ability to cope with the epidemic.” Memes are especially heavily consumed by millennials and Gen-Zers. Research paper entitled “The Absurdity and Irony of the Z Meme Culture Generation” notes that memes produced by and for Gen Z are more sarcastic than those produced before. The content is not direct, but often includes sarcastic statements and self-deprecating humor. This humor can become distasteful, especially when dealing with serious issues. The use of dark humor in these contexts can lead to a certain desensitization and a sense of disregard for the gravity of such situations. In this context, it is also important to ask ourselves if memes are a way for us to cope in dark times, or if they are simply a way for us to turn a blind eye to issues that need serious attention, especially when they are also a means. so people can follow current events. Memes are very influential and many people tend to form their opinions based on them. In that sense, one cannot ignore the fact that whether we like it or not. Memes can’t just be funny, and as long as they’re on the internet for everyone to use, they have some responsibility to maintain.

It is also interesting to note how we live in an age where literally anything and everything can become a meme. Be it a celebrity wedding, a movie release, a viral video, a political event, a festival, or sadly, even someone’s death, the internet can turn anything into a meme. One such recent example would be the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September. While many mourned the loss of the former monarch, many were quick to take to the internet to create memes about it. These memes specifically attacked not the person but the institution he represented. However, it is not unnatural to pose questions of ethics in this context. Where do we draw the line?

Memes also tend to go above and beyond to rob people of their privacy. Anyone with internet access can create memes of anything and can go viral overnight. Let’s not forget the countless videos of the many online spoofs of video conferencing apps that made their way to the public during the lockdown. One such example is a girl in an online class who inadvertently shared details of her life with everyone in the class while she was on a private call with a friend, and when she was repeatedly told to turn off the microphone, she did; doesn’t seem to be listening. Soon, a video of the incident went viral, turning rumors into news. Even people’s private conversations are not spared. their screenshots appear online and are used as “templates” to create various memes.

so when trying to make jokes on the internet, sometimes we tend to go too far. Thus, it becomes important to question the meaning and influence of memes that are created to generate a few likes. Does everything have to be a meme?



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