If you are on the internet and are a prolific member of social media platforms, chances are that you spend at least one jaw-dropping moment every day on seeing an internet meme a friend or acquaintance shared with you. And the worst part is, most of that surprise and shock is out of disgust and inability to comprehend such repelling humor. By definition, an internet meme is, “a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea. A meme (rhymes with “team”) behaves like a flu or a cold virus, traveling from person to person quickly, but transmitting an idea instead of a life form.” And that, “Most modern internet memes are humor-centered“. An insufferable platoon of memes have hijacked your profile and sadly there is no going back.
Now let’s dissect the word humor. It is a relative concept and any nuance of common sense deduces that humor is, “ultimately decided by personal taste, the extent to which a person finds something humorous depends on a host of variables, including geographical location, culture, maturity, level of education, intelligence and context.” However, there is always a noticeable difference between good humor and pathetic, coarse attempts that solely rely on disgracing another individual for a mean laugh.
Humor is an important part of Pakistanis. We love a hearty laugh, and well who doesn’t? Internet memes about adorable babies and kittens bring smiles to our faces. Satirical images and comments on our country’s culture and society tend to bring awareness. Yet nowadays, our collective sense of humor has been maligned to a point where we can’t tell the difference between what’s appropriate and inappropriate. We master in the art of hitting below the belt by making a mockery of everything; from a person’s physical appearance and fashion sense to religion and education. The list is endless. But one particular area takes the lead. Political figures not only rule our miserable masses, but their internet memes haunt those of us who choose to exist on the internet.
I have religious and political beliefs and I proudly stand by them. I also have strong likes and dislikes regarding acts of certain fellow Pakistanis, specifically politicians. Due to the ongoing political drama involving PML-N, PTI and the likes, this bombardment of memes has crossed all lines of decency. Every time I see a human’s head plastered on the body of an animal or a notable man photo-shopped to look like a dancing girl, I wince with disgust. The attached comments only add to the entire nonsensical experience; As if someone hammered the final nail in the coffin of shamelessness. And let’s not even go into the realm of celebrities and how we treat them. Showing obscene images and memes of them somehow exonerates us from our own sins doesn’t it? If we aren’t working to change the system through honest, constructive work, what good will these sickening images do? Will the politicians cry themselves to sleep over a disgraceful image of them on the internet? Will the celebrities take to a life of extreme piety because they took your vindictive comments to heart?
This mean culture is not born in a day. It takes years of hammering. From our homes, to our school and offices, we live in a society that breeds on hate and mockery. We think that by taunting and laughing at another person’s flaws we are doing them a favor. One reason why we haven’t flourished as a nation is that we love digging out others’ problems like dogs dig bones, forever eager to throw dirt on the surroundings. When it comes to productive criticism and solutions, we are as useful as a Chinese interpreter in an all-Urdu conference. Spreading and creating memes of this sort reveals our true, hallow selves. We let the world take a peek into our confused psyches when we blatantly share and laugh at such images with friends and family. We, the superior creations of God display an ocean of savagery through senseless laughter.
O’ ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.” [Holy Quran: Sura Al-Hujraat 49:11]
At the end of the day, it’s not even about religion or tooting my self-righteousness horn. It’s about basic humanity and the quintessential set of principles that set us apart from the animal kingdom. We don’t deserve technological advancements or the world’s riches if we can’t learn to respect humanity in our daily lives.