Memes and Truth Wars
There is plenty of truth in so many of the memes making the rounds:
With the arrival of the internet, other new things have emerged, including the meme. A meme, we are told, is “an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by internet users, often with slight variations.” There are zillions of them now making the rounds, especially on the social media.
Sometimes these memes will offer us a lot of baloney, falsehoods and rubbish. But often they can present to us a whole lotta truth, in a short, clever and pithy fashion. A few wise words – often paired with a great image or picture – can say so much. Sometimes it is just a neat quote attractively packaged. A clever use of graphics along with a sound saying or a wise remark can really pack a punch.
Of course that which is true and important often cannot be properly conveyed in some short meme. One might have a hard time explaining the theory of relativity in a meme for example – although someone may have already tried it. And deep theological truths usually require a lot of unpacking and explaining.
The other day I posted a few such memes in a piece I did about what and who we are to believe. In it I said this: “At the very least, some of the rather simple – perhaps simplistic – memes making the rounds on the social media seem to have far more truth and are more reliable than so much of what we are getting from our politicians, unelected health bureaucrats, and lamestream media. At least they ask the hard questions. At least they might get us to think a bit.” https://billmuehlenberg.com/2021/12/21/how-do-we-know-what-and-who-to-believe/
As I say, there is a never-ending supply of memes, posters and tweets out there, and some of them are very good indeed. So here I want to feature some of the good ones. All of them have to do with a major theme: the covid wars and various government reactions of the past two years. Here is a small sampling of them:
“I’m not ‘anti-science’ for refusing to wear a mask. Anti-science would be reading the label on a box of masks that says ‘does not protect against viral infections’ and still wearing them.”
“A friendly reminder: wearing a mask while alone in a car is only helpful if you stole the car.”
“The masks don’t work unless everyone wears one. The vaccines don’t work unless everyone has one. The lies don’t work unless everyone believes them.”
“If you believe in the science of masks but not the science of life beginning at conception, then you do not believe in science. You believe in political ideology.”
“Sit in a crowded place without a mask, and you get angry looks from everyone. Put an empty cup in front of you, no more angry looks. Magic! Also known as science.” -Dr Eli David
“Omicron wave is so severe that hospitals are firing doctors and nurses.” -Dr Eli David
“Remember that the people shutting down our economy haven’t missed a paycheck since it all started.”
“Weird that I actually have to explain this, but taking things away from people until they agree to do what you say isn’t giving them a ‘choice’. It’s punishing them until they concede to your demands. Normally we would refer to this type of behaviour as manipulation and abuse.”
“Reminder: If you have ebola, meningitis, conjunctivitis, strep throat, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tuberculosis, hepatitis, shingles, MRSA, chicken pox, or a cold/flu/cough, you may still travel, go to work, go to a restaurant, go to a gym, go to a mall, go to a grocery store, go to the theatre and go to a concert. That is all. Carry on.”
“Testing yourself constantly for a disease when you have no symptoms is a sign of mental illness.”
“How long will it take to realise this? Only a fool can be happy to show off a pass for things he used to do without a pass.”
“If we had 90,000 adverse reactions to hotdogs, you wouldn’t eat one.”
“The conspiracy theorists who warned you of:
Are now warning you of:
-Digital ID / Social credit scores
-Central bank digital currencies
“Governments promised they could stop covid. They lied. Now reality is setting in. They can either recognise reality – that government is not capable of stopping covid, and that you must live your life – or double down, blaming you. Guess which path they’re taking?” -Ben Shapiro
“2 weeks to flatten the curve is now 3 jabs to feed your family.”
“I can’t believe it’s only men and women getting the virus – zero reports of the other 70 genders…”
“The people on the ‘right side of history’ are usually fighting for freedom and liberty, not censorship and reeducation camps.”
“You’ll fight for toilet paper, but not your freedom?”
“Nothing screams ‘I’ve never read a history book in my life’ louder than people who believe complying with tyrannical orders for two years will give them back their freedoms.”
“Only two questions matter:
-How much worse will it get?
-When will it stop?
The topic is not the pandemic, the topic is government tyranny.” -Jenna Ellis
“Remember when the Left said that a gay couple had been oppressed and excluded from society because one bakery in one town in Colorado didn’t make them one type of cake? Now all unvaccinated people can be barred from all services and all establishments and it’s totally fine.” -Matt Walsh
To get the real punch of many of these memes one needs to show the corresponding pictures and not just quote the words. But let me try to describe a few of them nonetheless. One has a pic of aliens looking at the earth. They say this: “How unusual… They entrust the management of their health to those who profit from their sickness.”
One comes with a picture of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: “In New Zealand this year seven people have drowned. … Therefore from midnight tonight we are closing all beaches, rivers & lakes. All bathtubs must be removed from homes and everyone must wear floaties on their arms when leaving the house. Anyone not wearing their floaties will lose their job.”
Graffiti on an overhead highway bridge: “You can’t comply your way out of tyranny.”
Little girl: “Daddy, what did YOU do when the State took all our freedom and rights away?”
Father: “I called anyone who questioned it a conspiracy theorist, and clapped like a monkey.”
A picture of a syringe with these words: “If it worked and was safe, you wouldn’t need to run huge ad campaigns, offer incentives, or mandate it. If it worked and was safe, you wouldn’t need to block, censor, and threaten those who question it.”
Another has a picture of Fauci with these words: “There is not a single person in the entire United States who needs this man’s permission to celebrate Christmas with their family.”
And one has a pic of Bill Murray from the Groundhog Day film with these words: “We are now entering year 3 of ‘15 days to flatten the curve’.”
One meme began with a BBC News headline: “How should you talk to friends and relatives who believe conspiracy theories?” Below it came this answer: “Hey man, you were right. I’m sorry.”
And the British rapper and conservative Christian commentator Zuby has had a lot of tweets and posts that make you think. Here are five of his offerings:
“Terrible things don’t happen because most people are evil… They happen because a few are evil, and most are simply cowards. That’s why they act like nothing is happening. Even if they KNOW it’s wrong, they still won’t say anything. History now makes perfect sense.”
“If you don’t want people to compare what’s going on to Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or Revelation as written in the Bible… Then perhaps don’t advocate for policies and use rhetoric that mirrors Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Revelation. Just saying.”
“I am flabbergasted that so many people have lived through 2020 and concluded: ‘The government cares deeply about me. They should have more control over my life’.”
“If you are waiting for the government to ‘give’ you your freedom back then you are already a slave. It is better to be a slave to Christ than a slave to the state.”
“Imagine releasing a product that doesn’t properly do what you promised it would do… and then blaming the malfunction on people who did not purchase said product… whilst telling those who bought it that they must buy it again every few months.”
There are so many memes out there, and many are so very good and so very truthful. Sure, we often need more than a short saying to properly express the truth about something. By their very nature these memes are often quite absolute and stereotypical in their approach, whereas in the real world a bit more nuance would be needed.
But in this they are like the prophets, who often used similar all-or-nothing and absolutist language to provide the necessary literary effect. Figures of speech work this way, and there is a place for them. Too many folks insist on having so much “nuance” that they end up being unable to discern major danger even if it stares them right in the face.
Too many folks cannot see black and white, but just 99 shades of grey. So I for one see the value of some of these memes. They are meant to shock and confront us and wake us out of our complacency. There is a place for the powerful and jarring meme. So I will keep using them as just one more way to get truth out into the public arena.
10 Replies to “Memes and Truth Wars”
Thanks for a really terrific article, Bill.
A great read to enjoy during our Christmas break.
So many truths in so few pages, expressed clearly and with just the right amount of wit.
The Internet should be envious.
Enjoy your Christmas.
Many thanks Julian.
Memes are the internet’s proverbs sometimes with more humour. Eli David and Zuby have great commentary too.
Quite right Martin.
True about nuance with some. “Ok you can warn people but you must use the most bland and nondescript language, you can’t you harsh or offensive or alarming words. And your tone must not be frightening.”
While memes tend to over simplify they can state great ideas in simpler form ( just as e=mc2 is the simple version of the equation) and could be good for starting conversations.
Yes correct Paul.
Thanks for a very amusing, but oh-so-true article, Bill.
A short comment on this statement of yours: “Too many folks insist on having so much “nuance” that they end up being unable to discern major danger even if it stares them right in the face.”
Put another way, all too many people are so concerned that statement be “qualified” that anything they say dies the death of a thousand qualifications. This is particularly so in regard to preachers: they demand that preachers chop, cut, squeeze, provide context, manipulate, accommodate, etc. that there is little left of a challenging nature, and so the prophetic voice is silenced.
Yes quite right Murray. Prophetic speech especially is full of absolutist language, stereotypical language, all-inclusive language, etc., all to strongly make a point. These are rhetorical devices used to strongly stress the truth of something. I speak to this in more detail here:
Glad to see your time alone wasn’t wasted.
Memes such as these should be most helpful for countering the pro-vax propaganda from so-called “true believers” on the virtues of vax. You can improvise on what Bill M has presented, rather than waste time on futile arguments with the deluded. Make new memes from old and use them! We can counter lies by giving out truth.
I saw Paul Wilson’s use of E=mc2 as a meme for relativity. Can you superscript the 2 to make it look more impressive?