Recently, a new attempt at creating an internet meme has been introduced. It involves a poorly-angled picture of an unfortunately obese girl or unassumingly simple boy smiling at the camera, usually with either unflattering make-up or outdated clothes, topped by a caption that reads something to the tune of “Hi! I’m looking for a handsome/beautiful guy/girl; please tag a friend who would be interested!” If you proceed to scroll through the comments that follow, you will read through countless “Hahaha never!”s, “HARD PASS!”s and “Dude, I’d rather die alone!”s from people who were tagged. The obvious aim of this meme is to ridicule the person in the photograph for having the audacity to hope for love and companionship, because somehow, this is funny. I am not at all ashamed to say that I don’t get it.
Each picture that ends up like this was probably taken at a happy time in his/her life, and they were quite likely reasonably pleased with the way they look in it, because they shared it on a social media platform. Then some jerk decided to take advantage of their trust, and used it to make fun of them for not conforming to societal standards of ideal beauty. He slapped on a caption that makes the person in the picture sound desperate and naïve, and uploaded it on a public platform for other sick people like him to mock. And suddenly, the whole world is privy to this private photograph that was intended to be shared only amongst friends.
Now people the overweight girl or simple boy have never even met are passing judgmental comments about her unsightly arms or his unfashionable clothes. For all we know, these could be their deepest insecurities that have now been brutally exposed to everyone on the internet, all in the name of “humor.” That girl you just laughed at for her weight might have been battling obesity all her life, and perhaps took this picture to celebrate losing 10 pounds after several weeks of hard work at the gym. That boy whose plain sunglasses you made fun of might have taken this picture to commemorate being able to afford treating himself to a new pair with his first salary. And yet, someone managed to turn a positive change in their lives into a negative experience, only because they trusted their Facebook friends to either share their joy or continue scrolling in silence.
While I am certain that none of these photographs were meant to go along with romantic propositions to random strangers on the internet, even if they were looking for love, why is that such a preposterous idea? Aren’t we all? Maybe they were just putting their best foot forward. But somebody thought that the idea of a person who is anything less than perfect hoping to meet someone who appreciates them for who they are is so utterly absurd that they just had to turn it into an internet joke to share with other disgusting creatures like themselves. And now, memories of someone’s hard-earned confidence serve as painful reminders of their inadequacies.
You might think that writing a page-long essay on an internet meme is an overreaction, but I am not advocating for extreme measures like banning it from the WWW. I am merely using this as an example to highlight how some people are so uncertain about themselves that they feel the need to put others down to boost their own confidence. And the rest of us are guilty of condoning this maltreatment by neglecting to stand up for the victims of such cyber-bullying. What if that person were your friend or sibling? What if it were you?
Every picture tells a story, and none of us know theirs, so who are we to judge?