In this day and age of social media, smart-phones and whatnots, privacy is a luxury. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of the thousands of cameras that pass by us every day. There are cameras everywhere. Everyone has a camera in the form of smart-phones. While some use them to take pictures of special occasions or occasions that are of personal importance, there are others who are constantly addicted to smart-phone cameras. Their phones are used for their cameras more than for the purpose of connecting with people.
We live in a world where mystery and suspense is slowly dwindling and almost everyone knows where you are. There are ample examples on the internet where a completely random person is part of a selfie in the background.
Life is not simple anymore. You cannot assume that no one saw you when you slipped and fell into a puddle on a deserted road. You may have been right about the road being deserted, but there could have been eyes. These are eyes in the form of CCTV cameras. You will never know whether your fall has been recorded until it becomes a sensation on Facebook. That is the kind of world that we live in.
The term ‘meme’ goes back as far as 1976. It was originally said to have been coined by British Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. To put it in simple terms, the word was used as a concept to discuss evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. But 40 years later, the word has evolved into a completely different meaning in the digital era.
The unexpected growth of social media has taken the people into a whole new dimension. It has become a platform to showcase their talents and creativity. The concept of memes is one of the recent sensations that have emerged on social media.
A meme is usually a combination of images or video of people, their reactions, along with a humorous caption which would be connected to another event which had stormed the internet and had become viral on social media platforms. You are bound to come across several memes on your Facebook page almost every time you log into your account.
Some of the memes convey a question or a statement based on an expression of a person in the picture. There are other memes that combine several pictures and a statement or a quote, which would relate to a particular incident in a humorous way. Usually, pictures used are those of actors, politicians or famous people. The focus here is to evoke laughter.
Not everyone would understand a meme. The meme would be enjoyed and shared only if the viewer understands the context to which the meme has been created. For example, a person who has not watched a Tamil film would not understand the relevance of the hundreds of Rajinikanth jokes that have been going viral over the past few years.
The popularity of memes has been kind of fast, but gradual. It probably started off as a simple picture of a random smiling Chinese looking guy. This picture of the unknown guy stormed the internet when people started responding to status updates using it as an emoticon. These pictures were then used with captions at the bottom.
Then you have the iconic pose of the character Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother with the phrase ‘True Story’. Even the likes of Barak Obama have not been spared by meme creators. It did not stop at that. People started to use their creativity by creating their own memes.
Sri Lanka too has its own meme creators who are active on social media platforms. They are not only creative but are also alert to the occasion. These creators are often part of meme creator groups on Facebook while some do it individually.
Today, everyone including VIPs have to be careful in what they do utter in public, for the simple reason that it could become part of a meme the very next minute.
Sri Lanka is never short of entertainment and creativity and when you put both together the results are nothing short of legendary.
A good example is a photograph taken at a violent protest in the Southern part of Sri Lanka. In fact, the photographer sustained injuries when he got caught between the protestors and the police. However, one of his photographs became an internet sensation thanks to a meme.
The photo depicts a man throwing a stone at the police, where his action is very similar to that of two prominent bowlers of the Sri Lankan cricket team. The creative minds immediately started work and they posted a meme making a collage of pictures of the protestor and the cricketers with a caption which translates ‘Over to you Sri Lanka Cricket’.
Another meme that was created some time ago was when a photograph of police personnel charging towards a female university student with a baton during a protest. The photo resulted in the police receiving a lot of flak from the public. But that did not stop our talented creators from cropping the policeman from the photograph to create a meme. These memes were shared more than the original photograph and became an internet sensation.