Memes like these are only a few examples of the phenomenon that has become a substantial part of internet culture. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, memes take on a life similar to an organism. They spread and evolve as they move from one person to another, often reflecting current issues. However, a common theme in meme culture today is self-deprecation.
In the past 10 or more years, memes have been a big part of society. They have given many laughs as well as acted as conversation starters. As time progressed, self-deprecating memes have slowly become more of a harmful thing rather than a source of enjoyment.
In recent years, social media has provided a platform to share memes of various dimensions, such as Bad Luck Bryan, socially awkward penguin and philosoraptor. One phenomenon involves shrouding an unhealthy negative self-image in humor through memes. These memes target specific things like obesity, facial construction, skin color, mental health, etc. According to Psyche, “self-deprecation is a form of verbal self-harm.”
These self-deprecating memes can cause people who are already self-conscious about themselves to hate themselves even more, possibly causing depression and suicidal thoughts.
Countdowns to mental breakdowns and suicide are accompanied by seemingly light-hearted photos and shared countless times across social media. Examples of memes that fall into this category are, “Who needs April fools when your whole life is a joke?” or “Can’t be depressed if you’ve never known happiness.” Memes like these can cause people to suffer from stress, anxiety and lower self-esteem, often making preexisting feelings worse.
Some memes are at times inappropriate or simply taken too far. At times, people who create content that frowns upon others typically have a problem or issue they are trying to overcome, and they don’t see any other way to release the pain/anger. They depend on the power of technology to escape from their personal issues. “Constantly seeking validation from others and engaging in self-deprecation can lead to alienation,” according to Psyche. Although these memes can be derived from good-natured humor, those who are seriously suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns should seek professional help.
Potentially offensive memes should be thought out before being created. The huge concern with memes is that some take the severity of these issues away.
While memes are a form of parody, the excessive use of poor mental and physical health as content may lead many to self-diagnose serious disorders, drawing attention and resources away from those who genuinely suffer from these conditions.
In order to combat the phenomenon of self-hatred in meme culture, content creators can steer away from self-deprecation and create memes fostering positivity and solidarity among social platforms. If we steer away from hurtful memes and stop giving them as much attention, we as a society can combat the foe of hurting ourselves. People can no longer feel the need to make fun of themselves to feel better. They can search for a more optimistic way to get the help they need.