4 Reasons I Hate (Serious) Facebook Memes
There are many reasons I like Facebook. I keep up with people from whom I’d otherwise be completely disconnected. I read articles that I’d never find if people didn’t recommend them. I even get a laugh now and then.
There is at least one thing I really don’t like about Facebook–memes relating to significant issues. I reached the breaking point today. So here are the four reasons I hate Facebook memes about serious issues.
They have no nuance.
Memes are inherently VERY short statements that have no context. This isn’t a big deal when they are just making a joke, but when they attempt to address serious issues in our culture they suck all nuance from the conversation. Foreign policy that involves hundreds of people, centuries of history, and layer upon layer of cultural dynamics cannot be reduced to a sentence or two with any integrity. The same could be said for the cultural issues that seem to be raging in our country. The lack of nuance leads to the next one.
They are unintelligent (at least most of the time).
I am not saying the people who post them are unintelligent. I’m sure I have improperly reduced complexity for the sake of a point in the past. And I am not saying that complexity cannot be simplified for the sake of understanding. However, very few Facebook memes are legitimately bringing clarity to complexity. Nearly all the ones I see are quippy and poorly reasoned. It takes about five seconds to come up with ways they are grossly deficient.
They are intentionally polarizing and inflammatory.
Facebook memes are intentionally polarizing and inflammatory. Those who agree with the sentiment they’re expressing read them and say, “Of course, no one could argue with that!” Those who are not on board with the sentiment being expressed read them and either lash out in anger and frustration or think, “I disagree but that isn’t fair to my viewpoint at all!” I submit that the authors of these memes do that on purpose. Conciliatory, gentle, and generous comments on polarizing issues don’t get reposted. Comments that whip people into a frenzy on both sides do. We live in a world desperately in need of dialogue and cooperation. A world where we see each other as people, not issues. These memes are diametrically opposed to that.
They shut down dialogue.
There are numerous times I have considered responding to one of these memes. My potential responses were going to be earnest. But when I thought about actually typing them into the comments and hitting “enter” they came across as dismissive and sarcastic–even to me. So many of these issues need real dialogue and understanding, but the form of these memes shuts that down before it has a chance. Certainly Facebook isn’t the best forum for dialogue in any case, but I have experienced posts where people ask genuine questions or share honest thoughts, and something resembling a beneficial dialogue ensues. Most Facebook memes essentially say, “Here’s how it is. Period. Take that.” Not exactly an invitation to dialogue.
I’d encourage all of us to think about what we post on social media–especially if it pertains to volatile issues. For those of us who say we want to follow the way of Jesus, we are to seek peace, to love others as we love ourselves, and to be ambassadors of Jesus who seek reconciliation. Social media is far from the best place to do all these things, but let’s not let it be a domain where we jettison them for memes that work against all of that.