Harmful Memes Can Have Negative Impacts

Recent incident shows rush to judgement on social media can harm reputations.

Social media was all over this kid until it was revealed he may not have done anything wrong.

Social media was all over this kid until it was revealed he may not have done anything wrong.

Sumreen Moughal and Victor Ucanan

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Social media was all over this kid until it was revealed he may not have done anything wrong.

For years, memes have been a cultural phenomenon around the Internet, especially on forums like Reddit or social media websites such as Instagram and Twitter. But has their reputation and effect on the Internet been taken to an extreme? That is the question we are asking ourselves in the wake of some recent controversial situations that have made headlines worldwide.  

Memes can be described as a picture with a caption that could be a joke or an opinion made into a joke. Memes are made for people to have a good laugh and share them with their friends, but that might not be the purpose of why they are made in 2019.

If  you have been paying attention to the news lately, you might have read or seen stories about a 15-year-old student standing right in front of an elder man. Many new sites and witnesses gave out their perspectives on the conflict by calling the kid a racist. They based their opinions on each other’s race, as the teen was white and the elder was Native American. After videos of the incident were posted on social media and on new sites across the country, Internet users began sharing the video and creating memes about the encounter. After countless memes were posted all over social media, people across the country, including journalists and celebrities, focused their frustration toward the 15-year-old student, causing threats to be made about them on various social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter.

For instance, an image later turned into a meme was posted by scholar and author Reza Aslan, stating, “Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s”. This one image shows the assumption many people made without knowing all the sides of the story, which is where the problem starts. This 15-year-old was widely and immediately portrayed as an antagonist when, in reality, he may have been more of a victim in the situation. And because of the mass rush to judgement, this kid’s reputation might be in jeopardy and could negatively affect his future.

Overall, memes are good to look at for a good laugh. But they have been taken too far, and the consequences can be lethal. One simple meme could affect someone’s life forever. It can put their mental health in danger, along with their social life and status in the real world.