Don’t Stand so Close to Meme

While we are off in left field talking about Russia, we must keep in mind that Russia isn’t the only one to blame for what happened in November. Yes, they created fake news outlets and fake Facebook and Twitter accounts, but as painful as it is, we must look upon ourselves and shoulder much of the blame. Russia didn’t vote, albeit they might have tampered with the electronic voting machines a bit (that’s yet to be proven), but they didn’t vote. Americans did (and maybe not all were counted, but that’s another issue that has to deal with election laws and gerrymandering). We allowed ourselves to be influenced, not only by the Russians, but from those inside of our circle responding to hate-filled memes. The memes that are circulated do not fall from the sky, and many of them did not come from Russia. Instead, many of them came from a little corner on the internet known as 4Chan. You can read about who they are and their influence on the election here. Memes and Facebook are the perfect combination. They have a way of saying so much without saying anything at all. They are designed to illicit emotion and make us react strongly one way or the other. So let’s re-focus the blame a bit. Russia did tamper with the election–one cannot argue that. Rachel Maddow can talk about Russia all she wants for the next eight years, or for as long as her ratings tell her its a beneficial thing to do. But the truth is, if we didn’t react to an article or a meme, it wouldn’t have legs on social media. I once said that I feel that I should shoulder some of the blame for November’s results because I did not speak up when I saw some of these memes being passed around. I’m beginning to re-think that, and maybe not speaking up in some instances is stronger than saying something, because in essence–and simply by how social media algorithms work, one’s silence and lack of reaction is a direct chop at the knees of a meme. And as I finish this last sentence, Kenny Rogers’ Gambler appears before me with the ace up his sleeve.