“For most of history anonymous was a woman”- this idea was illustrated in Virginia Woolf’s “In Search of a Room of One’s Own” in context with the suppression of women’s history by men. But for most of the present, who is anonymous?

TW// Sexism, Misogyny, Mention of rape

Social media apps have provided individuals with a way to interact and connect with people who have similar interests, beliefs, or backgrounds. They have expanded social networks and enabled people to connect with people they may not have otherwise encountered in their daily lives. These platforms have also made it possible for people to share ideas and cultures and have given them the chance to learn about other people’s viewpoints from across the world.se

But these positive aspects also brought risks to user safety, such as cyberbullying, online harassment, and privacy issues. With this influx came sexism, culminating in the growth of an online community of misogynists and sexist individuals from around the world who spread bigotry under the pretext of humour.  With the younger generation’s increased access to the internet, these memes may have a big influence on the way individuals think and shape their opinions.

On a regular basis, I come across pages that share memes like “kya fayada itna padh likh ke karna toh kitchen mai hai kaam”. They appear to be harmless, but just look at the number of likes and comments on such posts.”

“I once came across a young kid’s comment under a post promoting the rape on women for taking advantage of reservation benefits. He was just 14 years old. When the Amber Heard case was in the news, social media was a nightmare. You’d think that making jokes about domestic abuse and rape would result in criticism, yet look at the likes and shares. Meme culture is currently nothing more than a weapon used by oppressors to attack a community/minority.” – Anonymous, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University

Instagram, one of the most popular social networking sites, serves as a repository for meme pages. From politics to movies to meme pages of schools and universities, you’ll discover a broad spectrum of memes. Meme pages associated with various school and university groups, such as DPS, DU, IPU, and Amity, often serve as the breeding grounds for sexist and misogynist memes. 

The worst part about these meme pages is that you can’t criticise their content or call them out. You will immediately see a hundred men calling you names and using slurs in the comments section when you call them out for their sexism. They just get away with everything under the pretence of humour.” – Anonymous, Daulat Ram College

University meme pages have become increasingly problematic platforms. These pages frequently demonstrate a troubling tendency of sharing images and videos of women from their universities or elsewhere, accompanied by misogynistic remarks that sexualize and objectify their bodies. This behaviour exposes these women to cyberbullying, harassment, and safety issues. Such behaviours not only contribute to the perpetuation of harmful preconceptions, but also to the establishment of a toxic and unsafe environment for female students.

It is also common in these spaces to record women without consent and upload it on social media with captions like “Miranda ki ladkiyo ko kese patae” (How do we seduce a girl from Miranda?), “aisi classmates toh mai bhi deserve karta hu” (I too deserve classmates like these), “Chalo women’s reservation ka kuch toh fayeda hua” (At least there is some benefit to women’s reservation).

TW//misogyny, sexism

The existence of such sexist memes about students of women’s colleges thrive in these spaces. Such memes pose serious risks to female students at women’s colleges, particularly during the fest when the college opens its doors to everyone. From men mounting the walls of Miranda House and IP and harassing them to men scaling the walls of Gargi College and masturbating, groping, and locking women in washrooms. These meme pages implicitly foster toxic notions, creating an environment that normalises and encourages such vile behaviour while reinforcing the sense that women are nothing more than their possessions.

I’ve seen memes on university pages that propose the idea that women at girl’s colleges like being sexualized by creeps because they allegedly lack “male attention.”  These memes not only propagate detrimental stereotypes about women, but they also encourage a dangerous mindset that justifies behaviours like climbing walls to enter the campus of women’s colleges and participating in predatory behaviour.” – Sneha Rai, Institute of Home Economics

One of the reasons these platforms continue to flourish is because of the way college administration turns a blind eye to such pages set up mostly by their college students, while another is the inefficiency of social media app safety standards. The anonymity provided by these apps provides individuals the confidence to operate sexist pages without fear of repercussions. Building a safe campus is impossible if the administration continues to silence and shackle women instead of taking action against men who make the college unsafe. The increasing number of reports of social media apps profiting from this problematic content makes it hard to trust or rely on the safety policies. It raises the question: does anonymity today still offer a way to stand up to oppression or does it offer a way for bigotry to flourish?

Featured Image Credits: Scroll.in

Read Also: Casual Sexism in Jokes and Not Being a Femi-Nazi

Dhruv Bhati

[email protected]

At a time when people are becoming more and more dependent on the Internet as a source of information, there is a need to look into from where we’re getting that information, and if it’s something we should be relying on.

Over the past decade, anyone who has had the slightest interaction with the internet and social media platforms has come across memes- a concept that has completely taken over our perception of information, humour and interactions online. Merriam Webster defines memes as an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media.

Memes have gone from minor sources of temporary entertainment to a way of humorous expression of facts and opinions. While that may seem like an effective way of relaying information, it more than often is not.

Mike Godwin, in 1990, said that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”, a statement that is popularly known as Godwin’s Law today. The intention of this ‘law’ was to counter the comparisons with Nazi Germany, something that he felt was disrespectful to those who’d suffered due to the Holocaust. This example, however, throws light on how memes impact the way we think and how they normalise events and thought processes that maybe shouldn’t be normalised.

Now the question is, how is meme culture problematic when related to serious issues? Firstly, Memes rely on simplification- and at times, an oversimplification. In a situation like that, it becomes hard for the target audience of a meme to understand the true essence of a particular situation or issue that a meme is trying to represent. Issues like conscription, the refugee crisis, etc. cannot be properly portrayed in stills and references from Call of Duty (the video game) or videos of crabs dancing, and that lack of proper understanding rarely leads to large scale political awareness or discourse.

Secondly, there is no responsibility and accountability on the part of the meme creator to provide factually correct information. It is also harder to trace misinformation back to the creator in case of memes than it would be in other cases, such as news reports. In a world where what we see and read on the internet instantly becomes the basis on what we form our opinion, that lack of responsibility is a dangerous issue, because people can be made to think in certain ways without being entirely aware of all the facts. An example of this could be the 2016 US Presidential Election, where a number of people came out and claimed how they ‘memed’ Donald Trump into the office in 2016, with a similar trend being observed with far-right groups in France. This ability to twist public opinion trivialises processes such as elections.

Thirdly, memes often end up being about pulling opponents down and trolling them, rather than talking about issues. An example would be the recent meme war between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run-up to the Delhi State Elections. All sides have tried to use memes to reach out to a younger audience, but have focussed only on how the other sides failed to deliver. In that case, problems they should be highlighting have taken a backseat and thus become trivialized.

These issues were seen very recently when the USA killed Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general, which led to a war-like situation in the middle east for several days. However, the reactions we saw on the internet were not those that promoted dialogue and a proper understanding of the issue, instead, we saw insensitive memes that ignored reality, such as one which explained how to fake mental illnesses to avoid getting drafted in the army. This war would definitely not take place within the boundaries of the United States, and at a time when people’s lives in the Middle East were at stake, making jokes on it is a move that lacks empathy. This instance proves how meme culture makes light of severe issues that could potentially have negative impacts on a very large scale.

Clearly, there’s a need for a more sensitive and empathetic world in order for us to counter and move forward from the problems that we are facing. In order for that to happen, it’s important to change the way we utilise and look at memes.

Feature Image Caption: “The intentional pairing of a man pointing a gun at the viewer with the concept of refugees, combined with the intentionally shocking font and color is nothing less than fear-mongering and manipulation that would have made Joseph Goebbels proud.”

Feature Image Credits: The Daily Utah Chronicles

Khush Vardhan Dembla

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The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A has invited a series of memes on social media which are downright insensitive and distasteful. Here’s analysing how much humor is too much, or is it really humour?

Ever since the Articles 370 and 35A have been abrogated, this piece of news has become a hot subject of discussions and debates in canteens, dinner tables, and possibly every social media platform. 

The decision taken on 5th August, which strips Jammu and Kashmir of the special status granted to it decades back, and bifurcates the state into two Union Territories has invited mixed response from the people around the country, as some call the decision a historic step towards unification of the country and an attempt to resolve the long ongoing Kashmir issue, while others find it unconstitutional and a violation of rights of Kashmiris. 

As different opinions and responses found their way to social media, so did the memes. Meme culture in the last couple of years has taken social media by the storm, and it is here to stay. 

For every recent happening in the country and beyond, there are memes to lighten up the mood and give a humorous angle to the situation. Thus, it was only obvious to expect memes flooding our timelines after the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, and they did.

While a lot of memes were decent enough to be shrugged away after a laugh, there were double the ones that were really problematic and made us question- how much is too much?

Image Source: Twitter
Image Source: Twitter

From people going to buy land in Kashmir to showing their desire to marry “beautiful” and “white” Kashmiri girls, the memes turned insensitive to the people of Kashmir whom the decision impacted in the first place. 

“The memes on Kashmiri girls and land are not helping or creating humour out of this situation. It is only alienating the people of that area furthermore. It is creating a very stifling environment,” said a student from Jammu and Kashmir. 

These meme-makers and sharers turned Kashmir into a mere plot of land which they can now buy and girls from Kashmir as a mere commodity they think they supposedly have rights over. The complete lack of empathy from their end reflected their deeply embedded patriarchy and opportunism.

While it’s completely okay to take sides in a decision and celebrate where one feels necessary, it’s not okay to derive sick and problematic humor at the cost of respect and dignity of the people who are still coming to terms with the change in their lives, and are very much the part of your own nation.

Memes on Kashmir
Image Caption: Deccan Chronicle


Section 144 was imposed on Jammu and Kashmir on the night of 5th August to prevent any threat to security. While Ladakh and some parts of Jammu and Kashmir have started gaining their connectivity to the world back, several districts of Kashmir are still without internet connection. The meme-makers were/are making these distasteful jokes on people who didn’t have access to read and comment upon them. 

It’s extremely saddening to imagine a situation where our people from Kashmir will find these insensitive memes, welcoming them as they log in after days. 

“When the sentiments are so charged and atmosphere is apparently full of fear and distrust. Is it really helping the situation if you make the people of that land unwanted instead of being welcomed?” said one student. 

“The environment feels very occupationist. The way memes are being made on women and land. Trivializing the matter like that makes it seem like everyone cares not about the people But the land and girls,” added another. 

Humour is meant to convert a serious situation into something light to make people see something funny and positive in every situation. But, under this veil of “it’s just a joke”, can we conveniently forget the context sitting on our privileged positions? 

Is it okay to defend every insensitive remark as a joke without paying any heed to how the subjects of your memes will possibly feel amidst the tense situation?

It’s important for these people making careless remarks to register that the place and people they are joking about, thoughtlessly have been living a life of acute distress for over seven decades now. Sounds of bullets and witnessing dead bodies are normal of the lives of these people. Generations after generations, all they pray each day is for one more peaceful day to survive. While you and I live our lives joyously because of our privilege of being born into a state where constant terror attacks don’t haunt our lives, the Kashmiris are under a constant threat. 

twitter 3

It’s okay to celebrate the decision. It’s okay to put forward your opposition. Any debate is healthy to democracy. But what’s certainly not okay is to make our fellow countrymen feel like a commodity and their homeland, property or plot of land. 

It becomes imperative for us as people who “actually” love the heaven that Kashmir is and the people who reside in the valley, to be thoughtful and sensitive of their emotions and make them feel the sense of belonging to the country and fellow citizens. 

In our haste to earn a few likes and comments, let’s not forget that humanity trumps everything. 

Feature Image Credits: Twitter

Shreya Agrawal

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A critique on the criticisms of memes, shows and books about nothing.

In his widely renowned book ‘Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture’, Thomas Hibbis talks about how nihilism: an absence of belief in anything, has seeped into popular culture. Shows like Rick and Morty, movies like Fight Club and Pulp Fiction, suicide memes or people eating Tide Pods: all have an underlying intersectionality that says God isn’t real and life is meaningless. Not to be confused with atheism, nihilists believe that we are just spiritless inhabitants of a purposeless world.

People have tried to label this as something extremely regrettable, and blame the glamourisation of popular culture of a growing sense of disconnect and absurd existentialism among young people. Then again, most people who think so are also writing articles about how millennials are killing the movie business.

The truth is that at a point in time where education is rising, and students aren’t just passive absorbers of static knowledge, we are thinking about things. Most of us live privileged lives, and when we don’t have to worry about having a roof over our head or 4 square meals a day, existentialism creeps up. Why am I here? What can I do to make in impact? How do I ensure people remember me?For so long religion and philosophy have tried to answer these questions, and failed. Religion is riddled with dogma and restriction, Philosophy offers no solace simply because it’s too time consuming and needs in depth knowledge.

But why has this curiosity converted into a lack thereof: an acceptance that there are no answers? This is where I tell you that nihilism isn’t necessarily stagnating or negative. There have been a range of Ted Talks on a school of thought called Optimistic Nihilism recently, allow me to simplify. Understanding that the universe is too big to care about whether or not you eat that sugar loaded pastry, bunk that lecture, or finally confess to your crush, can be a good thing. If we have no predetermined purpose, if God doesn’t have a naughty and nice list, it means that we get to dictate our purpose. In other words, if life means nothing, I get to decide what MY life will mean. When I realize that I am responsible for everything I do, and am in control of what I do and why I do it, I live by certain guiding principles and I value my morality.

As millennials and Generation Z, the system has failed us. The American Dream is a lie, and we know that most of us are going to end up average, even our class topper with a perfect 10 CGPA. But average isn’t all that bad when you stop comparing yourself to Gandhi and take control of your thoughts. If you’re reading this article on your phone, you’re educated, you have basic facilities and life is good. You don’t have to be stuck in planning for the future, you can value your education, obsess about the perfect cup of Chai and cherish your student days. More so, keep up the meme making and pick shows like Rick and Morty over the same old uni dimensional F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Feature Image Credits – Twitter

Nikita Bhatia
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As wistful nostalgia and overweening regret over a squandered semester dawns upon college students at this imperiled hour, is the dizzying rise of nihilist memes and notions in student bastions a scathing critique on the Indian education system?

A morbid infatuation with despondency and macabre elements is palpable within the current generation of students who’re reeling with the cataclysmic effects of decades of disastrous and myopic policies crafted by statesmen and politicians patently averse to the plight afflicting college students.

At this juncture, even a languid analysis will reveal startling results. While the febrile joviality of students during their freshman year of college is infectious, for a rare brand of zeal and gumption is displayed in a setting plagued with gloom, it gradually whittles down and buckles down to the inordinate pressure and colossal constructs constantly assailing them, for by the end of their stints in college, most of them have already undergone gruelling stress and drudgery, and resort to displaying excessive servility, and a meek, demure temperament in front of the asymmetrical college administration.

Although flexibility is hailed as a cornerstone of modern education, its acceptance in the Indian educational microcosm has been proceeding at a very dawdling pace, rendering millions of hapless students stranded and desperately groveling for hope. While universities and politicians are quick to decry the paucity of student-centric norms as a farce, owing to the languid implementation of cherry-picked proposals which they foisted upon universities and students, it’s a far cry from the burgeoning instances of students grappling with mental health problems and nihilism in general.

Utterly scornful of a system that obviates all instances of exhibiting one’s creative finesse, remains arrantly oblivious to their scathing grievances, and plods them constantly to cower in front of an antiquated and regressive system, the trifecta plays a seminal role in ensuring a prompt espousal of a lethargic front and a macabre outlook, which stumps parents and policymakers alike.

However, the prolonged combat doesn’t end here, for the festering cutthroat competition is contingent on engendering a supercilious disposition in students that unremittingly smothers one’s primal instincts to deviate from the norm to strike a dissenting chord.

It’s no wonder that the dizzying rise of a monolith system that thrives on the misery of embittered students is accompanied by a phenomenon marked by a remarkable increase in students professing their penchant for memes that are either nihilist or anti-natalist in their essence, a situation that doesn’t bode well with conservative parents.

And despite the interminable hemming and hawing by policy pundits who lament the occurrence of such an aberration on a colossal scale, nothing tangible has manifested that could assuage such grouses, for students are repeatedly chided and berated for airing their grieving voices in an astringent tone, which stems from years of neglect and tactless upbringing that fosters an insalubrious environment. While universities in this nation reel with concerns emanating from trenchant student politics, rampant goondaism, and nepotism, implementation of universally-lauded measures to ameliorate the gasping concerns of students seems to be the least of their concerns. They’re hushed into silence by being exposed to the inclement power ascendancy that exists between them and the seemingly insurmountable organs of ginormous universities and hectored into ignominious submission with vendetta-laced retaliatory measures that cast aspersions on their frangible and precarious existence itself.

Collegiate elections are laced with vitriol and frequent references to one’s caste and creed are made to ensure that one isn’t cognizant of his/her perils and exercises his/her discretion with an execrable tainted mindset, which exacerbates the prevailing condition to new lows. Collegiate politics seldom invoke issues marring the collegiate landscape: academic tussles as a mainstay of the Indian education system, the imperiled nature of students battling various disparate impediments at once, and a stubborn system that refuses to reform itself despite a deafening hue and cry.

Scant flexibility around the curriculum, professors who frequently exercise their discretion in a manner reminiscent to that of Nero, and a dubious microcosm that extols academic mediocrity while lambasting ingenuity make students ponderous with dejection and dismal despair as their terms with universities come to a pitiable culmination.

Never has this despicable scenario sprouted as intermittently as it has in the contemporary epoch, with students now even struggling to scrounge for moxie for their quotidian sustenance as they drudge along while commuting, while attending monotonous, droning lectures, and while unwittingly scripting their own demise, all the while maintaining a harried expression that reeks of misery and a wistful longing for a hunky-dory past.


Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

Adeel Shams

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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!

Varoon Tuteja

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Millennials are often ridiculed for all that they do (and don’t do). But the truth is, this generation has had more unique challenges as compared to its predecessors. More often than not, memes are regarded as a problematic mode of communication. We discuss the phenomenal rise of this medium and deliberate how it negatively affects discourse the of ideas.

A meme (/?mi?m/ MEEM) is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture — often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by it. A meme can be described as a cultural unit that channels political discourse and agitation and is a representation of interaction in the contemporary digital world.

Unlike other forms of communication, memes are visual, faster, and more likely to adapt to change. Memes tend to evolve and adapt in order to be tailored to be relatable to every new audience it is introduced to. They are very malleable and can be edited to suit the ideology of particular groups of people. Memes are an extremely popular form of communication that is gaining popularity amongst millennials because of the elusiveness that comes along with it. Since most memes are in the form of images, they are cryptic to an extent. Therefore by sharing memes not only do people get to communicate about topics of common interest, they also get to share and understand inside jokes. It is interesting how memes are not just limited to mainstream media and pop-culture. Everything and everyone interesting including Vladimir Lenin, Barack Obama, Mckayla Maroney, Elizabeth I, Robert Mugabe, and even SpongeBob have been turned into memes. Memes are not just limited to what everyone is talking about; there are also unique memes for special occasions and jokes. For instance, “wholesome memes” spread positivity and love and are extremely popular on social media. Communism memes that try to highlight the pros of communism in a humourous way, and doggo memes i.e. memes related to interesting dogs and their activities are also seemingly popular. These memes are an extremely casual and a popular way to communicate with friends.

Believe it or not, these days tagging friends in memes or getting tagged in good memes is one of the best identifiers of close friendship and affection. To be tagged in memes by friends is an extremely popular method of interaction amongst millennials. It is regarded as polite and appropriate to incorporate our friends through memes and make them an active part of it.

Meme culture is a societal and cultural revolution that has allowed people to control the narrative that surrounds popular culture. When people have the autonomy to not only make memes talking about issues they are passionate about, but also share them as they please, they are being given greater freedom in how we discuss major events in everyday life.

However, even though the concept of memes started out on the internet as a way to spread humour, the status quo reflects a different, more negative side of the very popular expression of wit. The so-called “meme lords” fail to recognise the level of influence they have on young internet users. Since memes have made their way into mainstream journalism, with popular online media websites posting them to gain more traction, the fact that the question of ethics with regard to memes has still not been raised is unfathomable. A lot of the times, memes are made using pictures and videos (mostly without adequate permission), taken out of context and are blown out of proportion to ridicule. Recently the memes of “Durgesh” and “Kamlesh” went astoundingly viral within the Indian meme culture. The reality that soon came to light though, uncovering two very serious issues, being that of child drug abuse and mental health. The family of the person whose picture was used to create the character of Durgesh issued a public statement which urged the public to stop using and spreading the meme as they felt harassed. The Kamlesh meme was picked out of a BBC documentary on the drug abuse highly prevalent in the rural areas of India. The purpose of the documentary was to spread awareness about this problem as opposed to express amusement at the way the underage child was talking.

The origin of memes on the internet was to perpetuate and spread hilarity and positivity, and not to ridicule, mock, and deride. However, memes have now been reduced to disregard and parody a social issue which is highly problematic considering the instant access and exposure that memes warrant.


Feature Image Credits: Image Flip

Kinjal Pandey

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Bhavya Banerjee

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