THE DARK SIDE OF MEMES AND WHY WE NEED TO BE WARY OF WHAT WE SHARE ONLINE

I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to memes, I save them, share them, tag my mates in them. The ones that I like are *normally* involving dogs or scenes from famous films or bad photos of Donald Trump, but then occasionally one will slip through the net that is my over-cautious mind and I will laugh and share a photo that wasn’t mind to do that with. One that was perhaps stolen and created behind the owner of the images’ back, one that might be really funny to everyone else but one that is humiliating and hurtful to somebody.

I was a meme once. Thankfully it happened before the things went bloody everywhere and hopefully it has been lost somewhere now in the deep dark realms of the internet (just in case you were interested someone photoshopped a photo of my dad’s face over mine and made some grim sexual comment… DON’T LOOK FOR IT). Thankfully I wasn’t deeply scarred and I’d actually forgotten about it until this morning.

But the topic of memes and their ‘stars’ is not a new thing, I’ve seen a few videos doing the rounds on Facebook of people coming forwards to say how hurt they were after seeing themselves on the LadBible or whatever. I remember seeing one interview with a disabled girl who had been made into one and it was truly horrible. I have also seen a few Tweets recently from people who have had their photos taken from their Instagram pages and turned into something that we’re free to laugh at.

And then today something really hit home. A friend of mine sent me this:

This friend has a little girl and said, quite rightly: “It just pissed me off because you wonder where this “fat shaming” or desire to be skinny and feeling insecure starts” and pointed out that if her daughter saw it it would imprint on her.

Of course, she’s right! I don’t know who made this, whether the the parents are even aware of it. The problem is with this is that it IS quite funny, in that it is relatable to so many people, I can understand why it is so popular. But there are actually some really quite sinister things at play here:

– What happens when these little girls grow up and see them? Sure, they might find them funny, hopefully. But for the girl on the right especially, you have to wonder if she will be happy knowing that countless people laughed at her baby photos because she was ‘overweight’.

– What happens when this image is seen by other young children? This was my friend’s concern regarding her daughter. Although kids seeing this might not necessarily understand what the grownups are finding so funny, they will subconsciously question why these two images have been put side by side and might end up looking for the difference between the two girls, deeming one size to be more desirable than the other.

– By relating to this, we are projecting a lot of grown up, dangerous, fucked up issues onto children. These issues shouldn’t effect anyone, we should not be drawing these comparisons at all. And it’s one thing that it is a problem that we adults have, but to put it on children? It’s actually so wrong. Fat shaming is ugly, it’s horrible, it’s bullying, and on some level we are doing this to these girls, comparing them to one another, saying that one is better than the other. This is grown up shit being forced on kids.

And so, whilst I hate to be a fun sponge, I really do, I might ask you to thank twice before sharing shit like this online. We need to remember that there is a story behind every picture, and sometimes that story is not ours to tell.

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2 Comments

  1. Tooie
    May 19, 2017 / 3:40 pm

    Just a thought… when I saw the meme I didn’t think about fat vs skinny, I thought about how much it sucks when things look cute in a picture on a model but when you get them or see them in person they don’t look like they did in the photo. I think about how much clothing manufacturers suck at making things that are flattering on anyone. I didn’t think "oh that didn’t fit her because of her size." Maybe it’s still not nice because then I guess I’m saying that baby isn’t cute in her outfit, which is crazy because she’s a baby and super cute. Just the thought that the meme was suggesting the baby is over weight didn’t even cross my mind, I thought about how it sucks when your think something is going to fit snug and it’s loose or vice versa. Baby’s are chubby and cute, they all are. But maybe that was the intended implication, that it sucks to be bigger than a model, and I missed it.
    Either way, totally agree people should be way more thoughtful about sharing things online, especially of people who didn’t consent to having their photo shared.

  2. Natasza
    November 14, 2017 / 12:20 pm

    Besides everything you mentioned, there is yet another issue with baby pictures on social media. They are treated as cute props – same with kittens and little dogs and stuffed animals, everything is in the same "cute prop" category. And that’s seriously worrying. Countless teenage girls, fed by Instagram images, dream of having a handsome husband, pinterest-worthy house and cute kids (that never smell, vomit or cry all night) that they can use for their #relationshipgoalz pictures and dress up all cute because that’s what babies are for. Or, even better, create Instas for them ASAP in hope of making their children online sensations and make money on them, making their kids an entertainment for some fucked up pedos. THAT is truly bothersome.

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