Politics blog: Dank memes for lit politics

If you’re an avid Wi-Fi-using twenty-something in 2017, there is a 100 per cent chance you have seen, made, or shared a meme. Nonsensical, funny, and relatable, memes are the first language of the wild internet landscape. They can be created out of anything and for any occasion—and while they’re shared and created for entertainment, they’ve also contributed to the untamed, constant virtual discourse on politics.

Search up “dank meme stash” on Facebook, and you’re bound to find communities of thousands of members dedicated to sharing memes about politicians and political ideologies. One example: Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash, a Facebook group over 450,000 members strong.

Memes have been created from political events themselves—#BirdieSanders, the Obama and Biden bromance, and the karaoke memes from the 2016 second presidential debate are just a few examples. Even Canadian politics have had their vast share of meme-worthy moments, such as the Trump-Trudeau handshake and, weirdly enough, Trudeau’s butt.

Memes in political discussion are nothing new, but there’s no doubt that in the last decade they’ve exploded as an unprecedented means of talking politics. Meme communities exist for every political stance under the sun.

Yet while humour is a powerful tool to spark discussion, memes are by no means a good way to facilitate constructive dialogue about issues in society. They can manage to convey clever, pointed comments about political issues, but above all, memes are meant to be relatable, to connect like-minded people to each other—not to challenge how the other side thinks. It’s not a new idea that more often than not, an individual’s internet experience is tailored to their worldview, and memes are large proof of this notion.

We need to be careful about how memes can actually shut down critical thinking and respectful discourse, because of the fact that they are used to validate what one side thinks is right and to discredit the other side’s point of view. Memes need only be considered vehicles for political dialogue in the sense that they are a form of propaganda—made to endorse ideas rather than critically explore them.

If anything, political memes are a coping mechanism for people to express the outrage and dissatisfaction they have towards the political leaders and circumstances of the world around them. We don’t make memes to change people’s minds; we make them to make those who think like us, laugh.

So when you’re scrolling through your social media feeds for the next big dank political meme, stay woke, and take some time to explore the opposing side to your own political viewpoints—even look at some of their memes while you’re at it. Even if you might completely disagree with them, exploring the other side’s point of view is where a truly lit discussion starts.

– Photos are provided