While I have defended some specific memes in the past, the criticism that they are often facile and simplistic is perfectly valid. How much information can you possibly convey in a couple of short sentences and an image?
Given their inherent simplicity, they are one of the favorite vehicles for pseudo-profundities, as they are inherently simplistic and trivial pronouncements. One perfect example of the kind of meme I’m talking about it this one, which seems to be a favorite amongst my New Age-y sort of friends.
What was the definition of pseudo-profundity according to Jesus and Mo again?
It’s something that sounds clever or wise, but is actually really trivial and obvious
That sounds about right.
But luckily the internet it filled with rational people, and as soon as I clicked on the meme in order to see the comments running alongside it, I saw a number of corrected versions. Including
Ahh, that’s better. They may not be as catchy as the original, but I still much prefer these corrected memes.
I will concede that it is important to remember that perspectives can be different. I have talked a lot about perspective here on this blog, and how it can relate to things like privilege. What I can’t stand, however, is when people use differences in perspective as an excuse to pretend that there is no such thing as facts.
The point is facts do not exist in a vacuum. If you come across a shape etched in a stone, which could look like a 6, a 9 or a lower case g, you don’t just declare everyone right and go home. If you actually care about the facts, you try to find other clues as to what the person’s intentions were when they made that carving. Do you have reason to believe that the person in question even uses a Latin alphabet? Is it an ancient carving, before the invention of our 0-10 numbering system?
It is important to remember that your perspective can influence your conclusions, and if you want to be a rational person you should try to take certain steps to counteract your inherent biases. However, that does not mean that everyone’s opinion is created equally. We shouldn’t all just give up on reasoned discussion because your perspective has lead you to believe that fairies are causing your belly to ache and I should just accept that as equally valid to my opinion that you should see a doctor.
Where’s the fun in life being that simplistic, anyway?