Impact of Meme Culture on Indian Youth

This article gives detailed information about the meme culture, its catalytic impact on Indian youth, the popularity of this culture, the effect of memes on humans and the positive facet of meme culture. This article explains the origin of the word ‘meme’. Also, people make different kinds of memes, some on physical appearances intending to express satire and some to mock someone. On the other hand, memes made to make people aware of different serious issues without offending someone in a very positive and healthy way. In addition to this, the positive and negative facets of memes and how it helps people by spreading awareness.  

Meme is an abbreviation of ‘mimeme’, a Greek word which means ‘something imitated’. It was introduced by a British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976.[1] Later this word became popular and today we are all familiar with it. The practice of memes is so famous today that people entertain themselves through it. Not only the general public but famous artists and leaders also share memes. Also, people are trolled by making memes on them. Memes contain diverse comments or opinions related to religion, politics, sexuality and morality. In today’s world, one meme can make a personal hero and at the same time it can drag him down due to its diplomatic nature

The Catalytic Impact of Memes in India

The impact of meme culture in India is worth discussing as it has changed the youth. Memes, with a few effective strokes, they get the Indians clued and glued to political and social affairs while screeching at the ridiculousness of public life. There are several memes which got viral through social media. Meme making has become a medium for expressing an opinion, whether it is social or political. Through memes, people indulge in mudslinging and making malicious allegations without the fear that they may defame or damage the reputation of a particular person and these memes end up becoming entertainment.

The creators make memes without thinking about the impact and people also use it for entertainment, they don’t even try to figure out the hidden or the latent meaning. Sometimes they do not realise that a particular meme may hurt someone’s sentiments or may be related to some serious issue. Memes are often made with an intention to mock and use satire without giving a second thought. Mockery, sarcasm and satire are an immense part of this custom of making and sharing memes and these are intrinsic to their effect on society.

In one study, some students argue that the spoof Face book event memes desensitize us to future events by constantly poking fun at serious topics. However, other students argue that such memes do not inherently detract attention from the actual issue itself, meaning the events promoting Naruto runs across hurricanes do not make people perceive the hurricane as less destructive or deter evacuation plans.[2] Meme spreads like a virus; it spreads swiftly from one source to another influencing people as well as the culture. Memes along with entertainment also express the opinions and feelings of people.

Memes are a reflection of the mentality of the creator and society. Memes have been made famous through the internet. Internet is widely used and it is accessible to every person now and hence it is a very good and easily accessible medium for people to circulate memes. Through memes, one can easily make one’s opinion reach to the public, without getting into any kind of trap. Memes somehow democratise social opinions and ideologies. And to make memes more popular, the makers of a particular area tries to make a meme in regional language so that it can be understood or interpreted by native people.

Effect of Memes on Human Brain

Memory is dynamic; when one meme is circulated it leaves an impression which in turn gives rise to an impulse in someone’s brain. Hence, it leads to a perception about something which the meme tries to depict. When another meme of the same type is circulated, it changes the perceptions and ideologies of people. Notwithstanding a brilliant impression or effect, the new invention always creates some changes. Since our brain is susceptible to news things and ideas, so when an interesting and entertaining thing like the meme is circulated, our brain responds to it very quickly. It can be seen by the number of memes daily shared on social media. 

In its avidity to express satire or being sarcastic, a meme sometimes directly delivers serious statements about someone. No matter how it tends to be, it rarely leaves any chance for discussion or negotiations. Memes not only affect the brain but also the entire body of an individual. Some memes express their sarcasm or it can be said that they try to make negative remarks by criticising someone based on his/her race, religion, body weight and gender. These are the most circulated memes and these are the memes which intimidate people. People find it funny to make memes expressing sarcasm on someone’s gender or sex. Some witless people even find it funny and they don’t even express any contempt or criticise those memes. They don’t even know that the person on whom such memes are made will be facing various problems like reputation issues and one may also lose his job-destroying his whole career.

The Positive Facet of Memes

Whether a meme is good or bad, it has no doubt revolutionized the communication between people and the messages they convey, memes do it through interpersonal relationships, minds that can relate and understand the implied meaning. Some people also use meme-making for expressing their art of creativity, they make memes just for humour and they do not intend to criticize someone or something. As we know, memes are prevalent among people especially youth, social media platforms like Face book and Instagram contains millions of memes and are considered as a source of entertainment and joy.  

In addition to this, meme and social change are related to each other. For example, when a meme is circulated related to a particular topic or person, it tends to make people aware of that particular thing or information, and people try to find out more information about the same. Some people are curious and they always try to find more information, this practice increases knowledge. As a result, they make themselves aware of new activities going around them.

There are positive memes as well, they do not intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments they simply present things in a different way. Sometimes, they want people to know about the hot topics of day to day life. Some memes even express humour in a very positive and healthy way; makers of these kinds of memes do not offend any person. They help people connect and start a discussion. A realistic idea suggests that memes can affect society in different ways; people can use them for different purposes. People often use meme pages for fun and find it very entertaining spending time watching memes and considering it as a favourite spot for passing time.

Conclusion

After understanding one of the most popular and interesting topics, it can be concluded that memes not only affect an individual but also society as a whole. The meme culture leaves an impact on society especially youth and it is prevalent in India. The culture of memes not only impacts common societal issues but also political science. Memes are largely used in political campaigning and normalizing the brazen views. There are distinctions in ideologies of people. Various serious societal and political issues can be dealt with the help of memes. They convey messages very fast as they are easily perceived and understood by a large number of people. People find them relatable and often circulate those memes. Memes which are made to criticize rapists, corrupt political leaders and other criminals, spread awareness among society. Some people also use the practice of making memes to earn money. Social media platforms like Instagram pay some specific pages sharing posts if they have enough followers or other specific attributes decided by it.

Since today’s memes are based on social media, they are also a good way to gain influence online. Creating and remaking popular memes is a way for people to get more followers, and of course, these social connections can be leveraged in both positive and negative ways.[3]And the makers of meme pages earn out of this opportunity, some of them use it as their side business also. Therefore, it can be said that along with the negative side of memes have a positive aspect as well, they can be used for various purposes and have various other aspects also.

While some people make memes to criticise and express sarcasm on people based on race, religion, caste, gender or physical features, other make them in a very healthy way just for fun, humour and entertainment. In addition to this, political memes not only tend to spread political information among the active participants taking interest in political discourse but also among different sections of the society informing public opinions, especially youth.

The prevalence of memes is somehow because of social media as it serves as a great source of spreading awareness, spreading messages or opinions among people. Memes have negative as well as positive impacts. Therefore, it can be said that the catalytic impact of memes on Indian culture is neither a boon nor bane. It acts as an intermediate. Therefore, the art of creating memes cannot be considered as failure and this art has not still reached its zenith.        


[1] https://www.britannica.com (visited on 13.06.2020).

[2] http://thetartan.org/2017/10/9/forum/meme (visited on 13.06.2020).

[3] https://medium.com/@VEMEapp/the-relationship-between-memes-and-social-change(visited on 13.06.2020).

Aum Purohit from Institute of Law, Nirma University

“Aum is passionate legal guy who is always ready to work hard when it comes to legal world.”

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