Memes

I hate memes. I’ll tell you why.

This election season was the longest one ever. Because of my age and where I am in life right now, it was first one I was aware of and took the time to inform myself about. Having my facebook feed full of election stuff for the duration helped with that, and the memes were a big part of it. At first they were funny, but I came to hate them.

I saw nasty stuff posted by both sides . My bike-riding hippie friends said “Don’t forget to blame Harper for everything, including cancer and the extinction of the Triceratops”. Folks from my old hometown  said “Stop giving our jerbs away to ISIS terrorists from Syria”. I saw a lot of good articles with sources cited and in-depth analysis as well. It all floats past, both sides loudly declaring what’s right.

The Conservatives have one idea of morality and the left-wingers have a different idea. But when you analyze both ideas and break past the rhetoric, they are very similar. No one wants to be pushed around. No one wants what freedom and wealth they already have to be stolen. Everyone wants to stand up for those they perceive as unfairly persecuted. The details of what constitutes “pushing around”, “wealth and freedom” and “unfairly persecuted”  are where the disagreements come from.

I think that starting with some agreement of what moral conduct is, is the beginning of reasoning out practicalities of it.

Practical for an oil company is stripping the land for resources and making a huge profit that lets them hire lots of young tradesmen, who use it to support their families and the economy. Practical for an Indian band is preventing this at all costs. First Nations people don’t benefit from the oil, only from the pristine land.

Free childcare and child tax benefits are practical for families, but that’s effectively a tax on single people. So how do you decide what’s right for the country, when all of these people are in it?

I would suggest to start with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms . It was voted in by a majority, and seems to still be a pretty reasonable document.

Anyway, all that aside. The main thing that I’m objecting to isn’t anyone’s Conservative beliefs. It’s when those beliefs get reduced to 140-character tweets or 10 words of text superimposed over a provocative image. All that does is strip the conversation of nuance, reduce two (or more!) complex, and equally valid, points of view to black and white, right or wrong, us vs them. No one has ever changed their mind because of a meme or a tweet or an angry facebook rant and no one ever will. The only possible result is to circlejerk those who agree with you and alienate those who don’t. But the people I disagree with online, who post rude stuff that alienates me, are still my neighbours. They are people I was friends with in real life at some point.

And there’s not two sides. We’re all Canadian. We’ve got to figure out what’s best for the whole country.

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Shannon Graham

Shannon has been writing brief essays and occasional how-to articles at Rocketships, Unaffiliated (.ca) whenever inspiration strikes, since 2012. She is interested in your opinion.

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