The Political Power of Memes

Years from now political scientists will look back at this current campaign and laugh. They will laugh because we are living in a time where corporations and wealthy individual plutocrats have the legal right (according to the Supreme Court) and the means to effectively buy an election. They can do this through producing a deluge of professional ads that are targeted at “moving” segments of the electorate to vote for a desired candidate. We have already seen examples of this new form of “speech” since 2010, and our government is paralyzed as a result of this stupidity.

Right now brave Senators like Sherrod Brown and Al Franken are working hard to overturn this dumb decision and restore the basic balance of this democracy. Ironically the undoing of Citizens United might already be at hand. How? Because the capability to subvert this idiocy already exists within each individual voter.

Years ago “memes”, or these viral internet photos with web-culture specific phraseology, were confined mainly to the disgusting swamps over at 4Chan or Reddit. However now with the explosive growth of Facebook and its built-in sharing technology, this incredibly simplistic and yet powerful tool of expression is something that virtually the entire country has access too. What this means, perhaps for the present but defiantly for the future,  is that a well made meme could be shared enough to effectively act as its own political ad. These ads however had the added benefit of costing absolutely virtually nothing; neither for its production nor for its distribution.

Back when I first started using Facebook in 2004 I never thought that I would be sharing information on that platform with my mother or my college professors. Today I turn on my laptop and am greeted by hundreds of updates from all of these people, complete with comments and criticism from virtually everyone I know. The hive mind is powerful, and the tools at our disposal have the potential to completely diffuse the power inherent in traditional media advertising and news.

If you believe that this hope of mine is misguided or utopian, ask your conservative friends about how many “email forwards” they still receive. The internet is our version of talk radio, and with this tool we can upset the current power structure and promote our message. The first step is using this simple form of technology for a purpose that is more important than generating lulz.

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About stefanbc

I am an attorney who works mainly in criminal defense, child welfare, and medical marijuana advocacy. I live in Long Beach with my wife and four pets. View all posts by stefanbc

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