Can We Please Stop the Memes and Labels?

Can we please stop with all the memes and labels? I don’t know about you but I’m tired of all the attempts to be cute, dumb down issues and label people with a silly picture or cynical text. With the political season in the U.S. right now, it seems to be at an all-time high.

There are a lot of complex issues facing our nation and many people want to reduce them to a meme on Facebook or 140 characters on Twitter.

News Flash – Nobody changes their mind or position on an issue when you post a picture of Gene Wilder in his Willy Wonka outfit pointing out some inconsistency in their position. The truth is, we’re all hypocritical to some degree. Our actions may contradict our beliefs sometimes but it happens to all of us because nobody is perfectly consistent all the time and quite often our own beliefs collide.

People also like to use Leonardo DiCaprio’s picture with a glass of champagne in his hand to smugly pointing out how they (the person posting the picture) are smarter or better than a whole class of other people who don’t share their view.

Even worse than all the memes are the labels people use. For example:

  • If you vote for Donald Trump you’re racist.
  • If you vote for Hillary Clinton you have no regard for the law.
  • If you voted for Brexit you’re dumb.
  • If you voted against Brexit you’re not patriotic.
  • If you’re for immigration reform you’re racist.
  • If you’re for immigration you’re a real American.
  • If you think abortion is simply a choice you’re a baby killer.
  • If you think abortion is wrong you hate women and their rights.

The list could go on and on. Have you paused for just a moment to consider these are complicated issues that good people can view very differently because of their life experiences?

I know people who will vote for Donald Trump for one reason – they’re sick of the establishment. They feel he can’t be any worse than the establishment and might just be better. That doesn’t make them racist.

I know people who will vote for Hillary Clinton because they sincerely believe she’s the most qualified person to run for president and it’s time for a woman to be president. That doesn’t mean they’re anti-law.

From what I’ve seen and read, many British people who voted for Brexit (for Britain to leave the European Union) want more say in the affairs that impact their country than the European Union might allow.

Many British people who voted against Brexit because they wanted to remain part of the European Union, did so because they felt it positively impacts Britain’s viability on trade and world affairs.

I know people who want a wall built between Mexico and the U.S. because they see more than 11 million people who came into America illegally, not because they are racist. They simply want to know that everyone goes through the same process and follows the laws of the land.

I’ve known people who’ve had abortions and regretted it. Some have always wondered, “What if?” I also know women who’ve had abortions and felt it was okay because it was their choice and right for them in their particular situation.

There are many good people out there who share different views from you and me. In the absence of knowing whom they might vote for in the presidential election, their stance on abortion, their feelings about immigration or many other issues, you’d probably enjoy their friendship.

And here’s a truth – the society we live in claims to be more concerned about fairness, equality and anti-discrimination and yet we practice discrimination every time we label an entire group of people just because of who they vote for, what they stand for or what they believe. That’s wrong!

I wrote in a post years ago – Why Facebook Doesn’t Change Anyone’s Opinion – and I believe the same rationale could be applied to the memes and labels people try to use to shame people or make them feel stupid. Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, the people posting all those memes and using labels are actually the ones who aren’t so smart? After all, Einstein did say the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

We would all do well to spend more time focusing on what we have in common versus what makes us different. We’d get along better and get more accomplished.

2 replies
  1. Kim Barta
    Kim Barta says:

    Thank you Brian, exactly my thoughts and I have lectured and written about them too. Your writing is excellent! a true positive leader.


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