None Of Us Are Safe From Being The Next Viral #Meme.

I absolutely love social media, for many reasons. The way it helps me to learn about incredible people with incredible stories and provides me with the opportunity to keep in touch with my friends. It gives me the opportunity to help others in need through crowdfunding platforms and exposes me to international voices that educate me on the many topics of human rights and freedoms. I use it for everything from learning how to cook, fix things and of course to laugh my ass off at funny animal videos and new bloopers (R.I.P, Vines). It also provides an awesome opportunity to connect with my audience.

Of course, just like many of the other things that I love (such as chocolate), although it can be sweet and delicious, on a dime it can also cause me to become a gluttonous pig gorging (or binging) piece after piece until I’m laying on the ground feeling guilt and shame, sick to my stomach. (smiley face).

I love rejoicing in funny videos and inspiring stories but the reality is  I spend just as much time scoffing at the stupidity and an absolute disregard for each others safety and emotional well-being with comments, posts and lynch mob mentality where people can turn on anyone at any given time dragging them threw the coals for Tweeting something out of context or having a lapse in judgement (which we all have). It can be a gong-show, that’s for sure!

Being a social media influencer is like walking a very fine line of not giving-a-shit what anyone thinks of you, to realizing that what you say and do ultimately affects people and requires proceeding with caution and taking  responsibility for some of those things you do, and say.

Shane Dawson is a social media influencer, author, director and podcaster who charms people by purely by being his funny, lovable self. I am a huge fan and I love the way Shane shares his ego self, the part of him who feels self-conscious about his body and thinks he’s gross (he is far from gross), with the world. He’s authentic and reminds us that we are all imperfect people who need to learn to laugh at ourselves once in awhile.

Recently I was watching one of his videos that was, “A week in Shane’s Life” where he took viewers with him on his, It Get’s Worse, book tour. I was thrilled to see the amount of people showing up to meet Shane and giving him gifts of gratitude for being a voice in the darkness for so many people. I could tell that he was surprised and humbled by the response to his book and the positive reception of the crowd. To me Shane is a prime example of someone who takes responsibility for his success on social media and waves off the haters.

Of course one of Shane’s favourite words is, “Bitch” and he curses like a sailor while getting graphic with his personal life, but he is authentic, cares about his viewers and I love every thing about his authenticity (even if it is not everyone’s cup of tea).

 

 

In the social media landscape where everyone has the opportunity to stand on their own personal soapbox and to speak their truth, we have to realize that with great power comes greater responsibility and we that we all have the ability to be an asshole.

(Insert internet meme’s)

What Is an Internet Meme?

An Internet meme can be almost any idea or concept expressed in some form of content on the web, which is why it can be so completely difficult to drill down to a real definition. It can be a photo, a video, a person, an animal, a fictional character, an event, a song, a belief, an action, a GIF, a symbol, a word or anything else.

When one of these things is broad enough to be considered extremely relatable between most people and has a humorous effect to it (like sarcasm or exaggeration), it often gets shared all over the Internet. Mass sharing gives it its internet meme status. (LIFEWIRE,  July 31,2016)

Why Meme’s Can Be Awful?

Behind every internet meme you see online, as funny as some of them are, is a person who has now become an international joke.

Yes, some meme’s feature animals and famous people, but many photos have been taken without consent. Unless their meme was self made, wouldn’t that be considered cyberbullying? Photos and videos taken without your consent, altered in both appearance and context to be splattered around the world to be judged and ultimately humiliated. Yep, that sure sounds like cyberbullying to me.

Unfortunately persons with disabilities seem to get the worst of this practice and it’s truly disgusting. Author and speaker Lizzie Velasquez knows all to well about this reality and spoke out about the cruelty of these memes when she came across one created with her image.

Lizzie shared the picture on her Instagram page after seeing it on Facebook, to remind people that the subjects of these pictures are human beings.

She wrote: “I’ve seen a ton of memes like this all over Facebook recently. I’m writing this post not as someone who is a victim but as someone who is using their voice.

“Yes, it’s very late at night as I type this but I do so as a reminder that the innocent people that are being put in these memes are probably up just as late scrolling through Facebook and feeling something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

“No matter what we look like or what size we are, at the end of the day we are all human. I ask that you keep that in mind the next time you see a viral meme of a random stranger.

“At the time you might find it hilarious but the human in the photo is probably feeling the exact opposite. Spread love not hurtful words via a screen.” (Lizzie you are one of my She-ros)

I guess what I am trying to say is we all need to take responsibility for our lives on AND offline and to remember that although some actions might not seem like a big deal, they can leave lasting impacts on the lives of others. It’s always fun and games until you’re the one on the other end of the joke.

Before sharing that next meme of someone who is being made fun of, just ask yourself first, was it consensual and if you wouldn’t laugh at them in person why laugh at them online?

 

 

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