Dealing with mental health issues is very challenging and most people become creative in coming up with ways to cope with them. One of these creative coping mechanisms is through memes, hoping that humor would lighten our burdens. Are they really helpful?
and we are talking about this topic again because this is very important.
We also had an episode on meme culture.
Memes are already viral before the pandemic but there is an increase in the number of memes being posted and shared during the pandemic. Why is this so?
It is innate in us human beings to express, especially in a fun way, that’s why memes come out naturally with people. One possible explanation why there is an increase in memes creation during this pandemic is probably because people have more time so they are most exposed to current events. From a psychological perspective, there is really no deep explanation to this.
There are two interesting things about this topic – (1) individual aspects of memes and well-being of a person and (2) cultural implications.
On the individual aspect, when we say coping mechanism, it is a way to adjust or handle stressful or traumatic events. An example of this for me is writing, walking, listening to music, and prayer. For some people, their coping mechanism could be memes. According to an article I’ve read, memes are coping mechanisms for some people who are going through depressive episodes in their lives, especially those they cannot express.
As for the cultural aspect of memes, since many individuals are now using memes to cope with their mental health challenges, when a meme becomes viral, it becomes a shared experience and reality to some. This makes memes not only reflect individual well-being but also reflects those of the community or society we belong to.
Before, memes were just jokes but since it has become relatable, these memes have become viral and became a reflection of reality that is indirectly expressed by people.
Memes have become mirrors that reflect the person who posted it and somehow also collectively reflect culture.
Probably one of the reasons why (especially this pandemic) people became intense when it comes to memes. People have realized that memes are not just jokes anymore but it has become a way to express what a person and other people are going through. This has created a sense of community among those people who resonates with them. What cannot be expressed in words has been explained through memes.
One of my personal advocacies is to use social media to be a weapon for good so it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when people share memes that do not make any sense. However, when I’ve learned that memes can indicate if a person is going through something, it is possible that a message is embedded in the memes. This reality confronted my heart to listen to what they are saying. Social media is not just about the message you want to tell others but it could also be a way to listen to what others are going through that they cannot express in words.
Whenever I see a person oversharing memes, it gives me that sense of burden to ask how this person is doing. However, we should not jump to conclusions right away and judge the person. Instead, this should help us postpone our judgement on people for us to be more open, empathic and kind to other people.
Not all memes are expressions of what is inside a person because there are memes that are just funny. However, I remember that in my leadership group, when I ask students how they are doing, their responses are memes. Memes have become the most convenient way to express their feelings.
There are different types of coping mechanisms:
Memes are not maladaptive coping mechanisms and I hope we all understand this so let us not demonize posting memes. I have read articles and researches about professionals using memes as therapy. There is a change now in the mental health landscape of people. Therefore, we cannot subscribe only to old techniques.
To balance things, it is not safe to assume that people who always share memes are going through something and this merits conversation with these people.
Memes have become a powerful tool for us. Memes can be used as a trigger to genuinely ask a person how he/she is doing. Also, we can use memes to also express ourselves to others and there is no harm in it. Memes can be a love language, a conversation starter, a point of encouragement, a reminder to think about someone or a glimpse of life.
Not everyone has the ability to regulate their emotions and our default is to suppress how we feel. Our bottled unexpressed emotions will overflow and memes could be one way to release these emotions.
While memes are effective tools for expression, it is not a substitute for properly dealing with our issues. If we want our issues to be dealt with, there are proper ways to do it like seeking professional help.
And while memes are already being used professionally, a tailor-fit professional intervention is still a better method. I understand that this is not very accessible to students which is why memes have become an alternative because it is very accessible. However, memes will not be able to fully help us deal with our issues.
Enjoy memes because they are fun. Go ahead and be an encouragement to people through using memes. However, be aware that this could also be an entry point for conversations.
Memes helped us gauge the state of our well-being. It points us to the reality of what we feel, especially unexpressed emotions. When we think of the memes that resonate with us, they tell something about what is going on inside but not all the time. One way or another, memes taught us about realities we tried to avoid and confront.
While memes can express what we feel, it does not resolve our issues or problems. What we need is healing. Healing could come through different means like seeking professional help or talking to a trusted friend.
For us who are observing these things on others, our part is to provide emotional support, to be sensitive and to be kind to people around us.
Today on Campus is hosted by Dave Estrera and Jello de los Reyes. In this episode, they are joined by Bryan Trinidad, a licensed psychometrician and campus missionary.
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