I don’t know if Christians are aware of a conversation taking place on the internet. The conversation is primarily visual, involves lots of laughter, is challenging and often evokes gut reactions, and is often denigrating to believers of Christ. I did notice, however that these conversations are full of misunderstandings and misconceptions, and if there are no Christians involved in the conversation, and providing a voice of love and compassion in this world, there will be no gains or healing. This conversation is done in the form of MEMES.
Memes are humor based one or two liners that are associated with an image that grabs attention. Our culture is becoming incredibly visual in the internet age. The person who said an image is worth a thousand words is probably understating their importance today. The visual is the message in these cases. They evoke an emotion or a feeling or a familiarity associated with pop culture. The consumer reads the image and wants to learn more, so they read the words – placed in often unattractive yet attention grabbing white fonts.
If you still don’t know what a meme is, check out the lolcat memes at http://icanhascheezburger.com/. That is a generally inoffensive meme place, where people share funny photos of cats saying funny things. There really is no point but entertainment there.
My point comes into play at the philosophical level, where young people, adept at using computers, are using their time to make arguments using memes – and these memes spread on social media sites, or are googled, etc. They go viral, and people nod their heads in laugh, but they’re only seeing one side of the argument. In fact, I’ve found that in their mini-debates, fallacy in argument seems to be the rule. If you build up a “straw man” enemy (the weakest argument by your weakest opponent), and tear it down easily, you win.
I do wonder, if there were more intelligent (yet humorous) Christian memes out there, speaking truth in clever ways, would the dialogue change towards (1) Honest Dialogue (2) More Truth Seeking (3) A Spirit of Charity (4) Less Vulgarity on the interwebs? I wonder. Though I’m not holding my breath, and I have found it hard to sit down myself and think through appropriate yet insightful memes, I have found some interesting ones that talk to the Christian Experience, or communicate old messages in new ways (in the gallery below – feel free to click through). I have found them all through the net and many of them have no attributions, so I apologize for not linking. They have been passed around quite a bit.
In my thoughts I have struggled with the question, “Why don’t Christian’s Laugh?” – as much, especially when it comes to our own failures in faith. I understand that our walks are serious, and as Christians we have a huge amount of responsibility (in which we have often failed), but in all honesty, God made us as humans ‘like’ God, not as gods. We err, and for some reason, laughter is a form of healing which we need, and often breaks the ice for more serious discussion and growth.
It is a hard subject though, because pop images and modern assumptions are not evenly spread in the minds of people. Not everyone gets a reference to emo glasses used in images, or of Indiana Jones or Chuck Norris quotes being used as propellants for a hidden truth. There is the possibility of offense, so I do walk lightly here. The intention of all this is not to offend, but to get people thinking about what is already going on.
I do not recommend just googling “Christian Meme” without you realizing that most memes out there are people who have obviously taken a strong anti-Christian stance and often communicate it in vile and venomous ways. It is a wild west kind of culture, and there are literally no rules right now. That is because it comes out of the “trolling” anonymity of the internet.
But that is why I believe that good, well written and made Christian memes could add a new dimension, and perhaps one day eclipse the ridiculousness of the culture. Speak truth in love, in a way that others will understand, and perhaps you will see God move in the hearts of people. And you may see discipleship start with a few chuckles, as long as we point to the depth of understanding and wisdom that a life devoted truly to Christ can offer.
Here are some that I’ve found. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.