“Laughter Makes the World Go Round!” How memes shaped the presidental election 2016
It seems like after viewing the results of the presidental election 2016, the whole world hold its breath for a minute. Hour. Day. “Just can’t be real“. Let’s be honest, after almost one week, we are still in shock over the news that Orange is the New Black. While I was searching for different reactions around the world caused by the current political situation, I realised there are several ways of expressing your feelings towards the outcome of this election. For example, Anti- Trump New Yorkers went on the streets and let out their frustration, anger, disappointment and fright regarding the nation’s future, by becoming a community within minutes after the result. They seemed to build up a wall together by turning their collective thought into a movement called ‘#notmypresident’. They protested on the street, showed signs, made noise, took each others hands. Made a statement. I’d call this a rather emotional reaction. “Let us not grow weary, let us not lose heart”, could be read on one of the signs. (source: http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2016/11/10/notmypresident-new-yorkers-protest-trump-through-times-square-photos#slide-1) This hit me right in the feels.
After going through the pictures, I took a short break to check my facebook timeline but soon noticed, that this is exactly the place where another sort of reaction can be found. The very first picture that appeared on my timeline was shared by a friend.
I have to admit, I slightly choked on my coffee after seeing this meme. And this is exactly my point: How did I manage to giggle about the same topic that almost made me tear upnot even a minute ago when seeing photos of the #notmypresident campaign? Because humour gets me every time, no matter how depressing the current situation is. And it seems like I’m not the only one who can find an entertaining and amusing side to something so depressing going on in the world. With social media platforms, we are no longer just spectators of political changes and actions, we are also performers. Through memes, we basically run our own campaign on facebook, tumblr etc. and shape a candidates popularity by sharing them with our friends and followeres.
I’m pretty sure my 17 year old cousin, who isn’t normally interested in politics in the slightest way, didn’t stay up the night to watch the first debate that took place between the two final candidates. Yet she mentiond her Bff in a comment under this meme the next day “@Jonas Haha”. This proofs that social media makes it possible to reach the younger audience and influence their opinion and views by someone who reflected this event by turning his thought into a humourous meme.
The USA Today called memes the “lingua franca” of the modern election. (source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/09/30/internet-memes-white-house-election-president/91272490/) Regarding the fact that I, as a German, am writing about memes influencing American politics, this makes perfect sense to me. Humour connects, and seeing other people laugh about the same stupid picture gives us a feeling of being understood. Donald Trump and his wife Melania are soon going to move into the White House and because it’s just so hard to wrap my mind around it, it’s easier to just laugh it off because there is really nothing one can do about it anymore. Desperation and bewilderment was probably the drive of the creator of the meme above. Joe Biden being so appalled, he’s already searching for ways to let out his frustration and giving Trump a big fat DISLIKE.
Trending pictures that make a statement have been around for a while now and they have not always served to put a smile on someone’s face, but instead show their condolence and concern.
You know I know I shouldn’t be laughing. But I couldn’t help it.
So this is what happens when social media has been around for too long, why not use the same trend that once expressed everyone’s deep sympathy to one country being a victim of terror, for another country that is now a victim of its own political system? Seeing this picture on my timeline, this might be the right point to close my facebook tab and slow down with the jokes, memes are literally starting to get old at this point.