2017 was the year of memes. If anyone used social media during the year, they were bound to come across memes like ‘Cash me Ousside’, ‘Salt bae’ or ‘Meryl Streep singing’. The culture of re-producing certain moments and turning them into iconic memes is certainly creative but it’s important to address the boundaries of ‘meme culture’.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, someone who is politically correct believes that language and actions that could be offensive to others, especially those relating to sex and race, should be avoided. The internet will make you believe that being sensitive and offended is synonymous to being a crybaby. While this may be rooted out from the subjugation of femininity in our society, regardless, being politically correct is an education in itself. Oscar Wilde tells us that “you can never be overdressed or overeducated” and so, it is only becoming of someone to learn to be sensitive and politically correct.
In particular, India saw the rise of a distasteful ‘Soluchan’ meme that became so popular that it no longer remained on the internet. Needless to say, such memes were not only insensitive but also veiled the seriousness of addiction behind it. The truth behind Kamlesh’s video is alarming. It has been taken off of a trailer for the documentary Nashebaaz – The Dying People of Delhi that brings into light the battle of drug addiction that the national capital is facing. While trolling, mocking, and laughing on an illiterate addict child, people have not only cyber-bullied him but also obliterated the seriousness of the issue and for that matter, have completely lost sight of it.
We as Indians have been making fun of people’s appearances and their accents. A plethora of Facebook pages post images of obese, dark, and stereotypically unattractive girls along captions such as ‘I will only marry so and so’ or ‘Find me suitable boyfriend whose name stars with A’ and so on. Not only are these memes insensitive but they implicitly promote racialism, discrimination, and fat shaming. Trolling someone because of any disability or for their appearance is nothing short of cyber bullying. The saying ‘don’t laugh at someone, laugh with someone’ should be applied to the current meme culture. For example, memes like ‘Gormint Aunty’ and ‘Alok Nath’ are relatively in better taste.
Politically Correctness is often taken as a restriction of freedom of expression but the underlying restriction of any freedom is not to exercise it to hurt someone. Whenever you come across insensitive memes, you should block the page that promotes it and, if such memes are shared within your friend circle, you should definitely step up. While political correctness may seem to be cumbersome at first, once it is embedded in your mind, it can be worthwhile.
Let’s make internet a safe space!