We all know the famous expression “Monkey see, Monkey do”, which is used when someone imitates another person, usually doing something stupid, thus the qualification of being a monkey. Yet this goes a little deeper than only a reference to our primate relatives, because one of the most efficient ways we learn to do anything, whether it’s how to be social, or any given task, is by copying someone else. Even when it comes to emotions, we can see them in others, which then allows us to recognize them within ourselves as well.
This is where the increasingly popular social phenomenon of memes comes in, because they are used to portray certain emotions in a way that makes it easy to recognize. Those memes are nothing more than certain images referring to known movie quotes, amongst others, which are then captioned to express whichever emotion one wants to express about a certain topic. Anyone can create and post them, and more and more are there chains of such pictures one can follow, going on for hours and hours, being as hypnotizing as fire.
The problem with expressing one’s emotions like that, or even using it to see other people’s emotions is that it does not remain within the virtual world, but impinges itself upon our brains, leading us to use those captions even while have a real life conversation with someone. The danger lies especially within the younger generations, who will be even more exposed to it than we are, and may use them as the main way to express how they feel about certain things, because those will be the emotional example they imitated. This is not to say that mimetic is a bad thing, but only that one has to be careful about what is copied.
This could also potentially make it so that it becomes harder and harder to not only gage the emotions of others in real life situation, but also ones own, and this would only increase as time goes, because just like ideas, memes are contagious, they like to jump from one brain to another. All of this would not be so bad, if the quality of emotions transferred within the memes was any good, but very often, they dumb down the message they are trying to transmit, which would perhaps lead to emotional numbness, lack of emotional awareness, and a widespread inability to communicate one’s true feelings.
In a world that is already lacking of emotional education and communication facilitation, the phenomenon of memes could have disastrous consequences for the future of our children, and even for the most disconnected individuals in our world. The danger of memes is real, and we must stand up against it, offering better examples for how to deal and recognize one’s emotions, not letting our youth be swallowed into the dumbed down spiral of internet memes. “Think about the children”!!
Until next time,