August 15, 2020

Political Meme Fatigue in the Age of the Resistance

cheetah

I've decided I was wrong. My problem was never election fatigue. That was a mistake. And as tired as I am of hearing about Donald Trump, that is not the problem either. I have not grown tired of politics, and I have not given up my conviction that participation in the process as an informed voter is important. I have not even become bored with politics, as I recently thought was starting to be the case.

My problem is a specific form of outrage fatigue that I am going to call meme fatigue because I feel like it needs a name. What I am sick of is the constant sharing of the same lazy political memes on social media by those who like to imagine themselves as part of some sort of "resistance" movement. That's it. I am still very interested in intelligent political discussions. I am still very interested in learning what others think about various political issues and why. It is just that I don't get anything remotely close to this from all the memes.

This realization first hit me as I sat down to watch several of the CNN town halls featuring various Democratic candidates. Despite thinking I was afflicted with political fatigue beforehand, I discovered that I enjoyed them very much. The same was true of the Democratic debates. I had been thinking I was getting sick of it, but that wasn't the case at all.

It took only a few minutes on Twitter for me to finally recognize the real problem. In the span of 10 minutes, I must have seen the same two mindless Trump memes at least 25 times. One was nothing more than mocking his physical appearance, which is exactly the sort of thing that has come to characterize much of this "resistance." Evidently, they've decided to create a movement in which they adopt most of the despicable tactics the Republicans used against President Obama and about which they complained bitterly at the time. So much for retaining any sort of moral high ground I suppose. The other meme featured Trump in a Nazi uniform. You know, because anybody who doesn't share our political views must be a Nazi.

With my head spinning from the realization that nearly all of the people doing this were self-identified "humanists" (I checked as I unfollowed most of them), I finally realized that what I am really sick of is the sharing of divisive memes as a substitute for reasoned political discourse. If this is "the resistance," I want no part of it. These people are not behaving like humanists. Some are not even behaving like reasonable adults. If this is all they've got, they're handing the election to Trump and giving Putin what he wants. Fortunately, I think there is still hope. If the outrage many of us feel can be used to drive effective political activism, we may still have a chance. Of course, that requires a bit more thought than sharing an image on Twitter.