There are people who feel strongly about things—from Twitter wokes who call out people who are against their stand, to people who support the #SaveTheTurtles movement by not using single-use plastic straws; from Facebook commentators who are seen on every Facebook comment thread to political activists who barge out on the streets and protest—who go out of their way just to express how they truly feel about specific issues. And then there’s me, a regular dude who happens to trashpost memes on my social media accounts. I’m a meme lord, you might say.
My circle of friends finds my memes amusing. Some say it is their go-to when they need to get their daily dose of laughs. Some relatives and close family friends, especially my elder titas and titos, are weirded out by it; some are confused. Some even ask, “What do you mean by this meme?” to which I respond, “Ha! You mean, what do you meme?”
I get confused silence in return. In the next three minutes or so, I try to explain to them what the meme actually means, which leads to series of questions a la Tonight With Boy Abunda that I abruptly end by changing the topic to small talk instead.
Today, I finally have their answers.
The first appearance of the word “meme” came from The Selfish Gene, a 1976 novel by Richard Dawkins, in which he used the word “mimeme” which, in Greek, means “that which is imitated.” Dawkins used the word to describe genes as a form of replication. From generations passed, memes have been used as an expression of an idea that is spread both horizontally within a generation, and, vertically across generations. This brings us to today—the era of viral internet memes, where memes are spread simply through the tap of a finger. Memes are considered part of pop culture.
The permeation of memes would not have been possible without the people who spread it—people like me, a millennial.
I’ve been fond of sharing memes since I was in high school, which was roughly seven years ago. What started out as a hobby that I did during my pastime became my regular source for a quick chuckle. How memes mirror life in general is what makes them funny – it makes life a little easier knowing that a lot of people are experiencing what one is currently living.
Stressed out on the job? Memes. Spilled your cup of coffee on the way to work? Memes. Had an embarrassing experience that you thought was unique to you? Memes. Had a bad experience as a child that scarred you as an adult? Well, I hate to break it to you, but there are memes for that as well.
In my quest for sharing the funniest of memes, I have also stumbled upon memes that tackle episodes of depression and mental health, which have been considered taboo and less talked about in the days of old. As these memes surfaced from the ground up, I was able to take a look at how other people around me operate as individuals. Sensitively, there are memes that have been posted by my friends about wanting to die, and upon asking them, the answer was almost always that they do not want their life to end but instead, they would rather want to cease the bad feeling and the suffering it entails.
While there is ongoing discussion on whether mental health issues turned to memes are trivialized or not, one thing is for sure, we need to be nicer persons to one another every day. In the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “be kind to one another.”
Today, memes have also been used to express assent or dissent over issues, or to praise or mock a person. This goes without saying that memes have inspired movements and protests around the world. From the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC, to the Hong Kong protests in recent months, memes were the grassroots that sprouted these movements. Memes helped ignite the causes for which these protests have started in the first place.
We are all moving to greater heights and discussing bigger issues because of memes. We allow them to spark discussion. We allow the ideas behind them to seep through our minds and discuss the bigger issues that are behind it.
Today, I finally have the answers to me being a meme lord.
Tito, tita, I am posting this meme because I find it funny that a random Facebook page from Michigan, USA has had a similar experience with me, a guy from Cebu, Philippines, when they were nine years old. Ma’am, sir, I am posting this meme because I find it funny that I’m not the only person who is still grappling to get a hold of his finances. Ma, pa, I am posting this meme because I’ve been having difficulty with concentrating on my to-dos these past few days; I hope you could help me out. Lola, lolo, I am posting this meme because I think that climate change is a real thing and I will be the one to suffer from it in the years to come, and although it’s funny, it’s going to threaten my life in the future and I do not know how to prepare for it.
You may say that memes are to be taken at face value. I say no. Dig deeper, rethink, revalue, and reevaluate them, one meme post at a time. I mean the memes I share with my every tap or every click, or should I say, I meme it.
Joen Ramas is a Junior Associate, Tax Compliance and Advisory of P&A Cebu. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 900 staff members. We are in Makati, Cavite, Cebu and Davao. For comments on this article, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or PAGrantThornton.email@example.com. For our services,visit www.grantthornton.com.ph. Follow us on Twitter: pagrantthornton, and FB: P&A Grant Thornton.
As published in Mindanao Times, dated 05 November 2019