I’ve avoided this one because my title sounds kind of harsh. On the one hand, these memes do communicate their messages loud and clear, and that’s their goal. When you see one of these, you have no doubt where the poster stands on the issue.
On the other hand, when taken literally, they Make No Sense! The meme maker is so completely convinced of their perspective that they don’t even recognize the contradictions in the meme.
Take this one:
- Obama did not invent transgender people.
- The kinds of laws that Obama supported allowed transgender people to us the bathroom that corresponds to the gender with which they identify. Under these laws, this woman would have used a women’s bathroom.
- The meme maker apparently supports the “bathroom bills” that require a person to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender shown on their birth certificate. This picture shows someone doing just that. The aggrieved man in the picture is blaming the wrong person if he’s blaming Obama.
There’s more I could say about this incoherent and bigoted meme, but I’ll leave it as “an exercise for the reader.”
Then there’s this one:
I hardly know where to start. This meme maker should have taken their own advice and learned some history. This meme would make about as much sense as saying “…All 3 had blue in their flags and all 3 forced everyone to get a flu shot! Now considering Liberals are known as the blue party and they support Flu shots for everyone, remember this…”
For one thing, the meme lies and equivocates. For example, Germany was Fascist, not socialist and they didn’t disarm their citizens. The socialism practiced in Russia (do they mean the USSR?) and the socialism practiced in China are different from each other and from other socialist nations (like Sweden or Canada).
The “Liberals” are not making a goal of “disarmament” and even if they were, does the meme maker expect that people with guns would be able to defeat an army with massive firepower at their disposal plus nuclear weapons?
But wait—are the “Liberals” actually planning to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans? Is that what the meme maker really believes?
Now I’m lost. All I really understand from this is that the meme maker hates “Liberals.”
Or how about this one, posted about the tearing down of the “Silent Sam” Confederate soldier statue at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Literally no one is claiming that the black people are slaves or the white people are Nazis. Plus, there are white people (and probably black people) on both sides of the disagreement. The fight is not about black and white, but about what a certain symbol represents and to what extent this symbol glorifies racism.
Yes, the Confederate statue was erected by Democrats, but many policies of the Democrats and the Republicans have changed over the decades. The Democrats of today are allowed to disagree with things that were done by the Democrats of yesterday. The Republicans do the same thing. Also, are you saying only Democrats wanted to remove “Silent Sam”? This post frames the disagreement as white Republicans vs. black Democrats, but is that true?
Trump’s fault? What does that mean? No one thinks that it’s Trump’s fault that the statue was taken down. Many think it’s Trump’s fault that racists feel more confident to publicly express racist views, but that’s a different topic.
This sentence looks clever, but it doesn’t present a clear statement or even mean anything as far as I can tell.
Principle 8: A meme should be coherent.
Here is a full list of my opinions so far:
Principle 1: Check facts and don’t share falsehoods. Lies do not “support” anything.
Principle 2: If you don’t agree with what a meme actually says, then don’t repost. Find another one.
Principle 3: Make one or two clear points. Resist oversimplification.
Principle 4: Don’t use multiple exclamation points.
Principle 5: Don’t beg or manipulate people to share your meme. If you don’t think people will share it, then make it better!
Principle 6: Make sure your meme accurately describes the view of the other side. Avoid straw men.
Principle 7: Make sure your comparisons make sense. Apples and oranges are both fruits, but be careful what categories you use to compare them.
Principle 8: A meme should be coherent.
Reminder (Posted on all my Meme Series Posts)
I am not responding to or critiquing memes here on the basis of whether I agree or not with their underlying points. I have opinions which I may mention from time to time, but that is not the point of the discussion on this blog. I’m more interested in how these memes convey their messages and what principles I would put in place if I were the “meme police.”
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be free to post these things or that they are 100% useless for getting ideas across. Far from it. Obviously, people are free to say anything they like and post anything they like and make any memes that they like.
Likewise, I am free to critique them as I like. I’m getting these thoughts off my chest and offering them to you as food for thought.
(I also don’t go around thinking bad thoughts about people who post annoying memes. In fact, I kind of like knowing what my friends are thinking, which is why I’m critiquing these on this blog rather than complaining to people who post them.)