There is one thing that is bound to happen every time yet another scandal is unearthed – and no, it isn’t that culprits will get arrested or that loopholes in our systems will get sealed.
Whether it is corruption on a grand scale, a brutal case of domestic violence or even an incident of someone caught slaughtering cats for unsuspecting samosa lovers, you can be sure that Kenyans will promptly come up with memes about it. Hilarious, clever memes. We have a whole lot of people dedicated to creating tens of these on a daily basis and another lot who will share them religiously on social media.
We are a creative lot, and our sense of humour is matchless. On the surface, this humour can seem like it is helping. What can match a good laugh on a Friday evening after a long week of depressing news? Memes can even seem like they are finally getting us to talk about issues.
The truth, however, is that memes are not getting us anywhere. While there is the occasional one or two that will have you thinking about an important issue, the majority are created for the sole purpose of eliciting a laugh.
There is nothing funny about a husband chopping off his wife’s arms or a wife dismembering her husband; or bad governance, or an individual thinking that they are clever enough to loot hundreds of millions of shillings and get away with it. Neither is there anything funny about a tragedy like a plane crash. These are serious, worrying issues and memes are not the appropriate reaction.
A really funny one might get your mind off the anger, helplessness and despair, but that is just as far as the help goes. By laughing about some of these issues, we are hiding from our realities.
We are giving into victim mentality, telling ourselves that things have gotten so bad that the only thing left in our power is to laugh about them. Amidst the giggles and snorts, we may even begin to rationalise some of these actions.
Also, while at it we often throw our empathy to the wind and forget about feelings of victims of the tragedies we often make memes out of.
How about having actual in-depth conversations and debates on important issues? How about having these conversations from a point where we all have the accurate facts? How about trying a little anger instead?
Let’s, by all means, retain our sense of humour but not at the cost of our well-being or the well-being of the economy. Memes are simply not the way to engage in important conversations. Let’s confine their use to lighter issues like Argentina’s dismal performance at the world cup.