Time to make some people angry…

Posted on January 24, 2013


Memes suck.

The internet is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. We can connect with people all over the globe in a matter of seconds and minutes. We can expand our base of experience, knowledge and opinion. The internet allows for greater discussion than ever before possible. And like any powerful tool, it is just a tool that can be used for harm as well as good.

I want to talk about rhetoric; about debate; about how people talk. The above is an example of how we talk. This meme presents an argument. It’s corny but effective. It’s an internet meme. They’re stupid.  Some are genuinely funny; they make us laugh and we go about our day feeling a little happier. Some are used to advance a message or to push an agenda. The message isn’t important right now; what’s important is that people are using this format for communicating and they’re fucking it up.

Want to say something pithy about cats? Use an internet meme. Want to say something deep about politics? Don’t use an internet meme. I beg you. It doesn’t work. All you’re going to do is piss someone off because you’ve missed the point.

Let’s consider the above example. The format is this: “Don’t like issue A?  Then don’t get involved, because it doesn’t concern you.” It appears to be directed against everyone, from liberals to conservatives, from Christians to Atheists. The message at the end is simple enough but the whole suggests something deeper: “Don’t agree with my opinion? Then shut the hell up.” The problem is that this sort of rhetoric shuts down discussion.

What can anyone hope to accomplish with this message? “Hey, I think gay marriage is wrong, and here’s why.” “Yeah? Are you gay? You’re not? Then shut up.” “Um, okay.  Well, I also think we should have better gun control.” “Really? Do you own a gun? You don’t? Then shut up.” “See, I think you’re missing the point…” “You do? How about you shut up?”

Debate is good. Talking about issues is good. Resolving differences is good. Reducing a complicated, lengthy argument to a simple, “Don’t like it? Don’t do it,” is insulting. It demeans the other viewpoint. It shows disdain for anyone who disagrees. It’s indicative of a lack of respect for other people.

And now that I’ve said it, I suppose I have to stop doing it…