Memes and the Revolution

"Wise Women for Clinton member Valerie Brady Rongey shares her thoughts on memes and the revolution.

Being a social media hog, an informed voter, and a Democratic Party leader, since I joined Facebook I’ve followed all the great Democratic leaders and some who caucused with Dems, such as Sen. Sanders. When ‘memes’ became a thing, some leaders had staff and volunteers who really caught on to that medium and capitalized on it. Snippets of quotes attached to a powerful photo goes much further than text and links about issues.

The quotes spoke to me, they were things I’d been saying and working on for years, they were topics for which we’d have resolutions at our Dem Party meetings.

Then one day it hit me, we’ve been saying this stuff for years, working on it for years: this Senator Sanders wasn’t saying anything new, someone was just popping it into an easily shareable meme and making it look all polished and brand-new.

On the day I had the revelation I stopped following about 20 Facebook pages that did nothing but pump out Sanders memes.

That was more than two years ago. Long before he began his run for president, I’d already had enough. I blame THE MEMES. They are the very model of easily-shared, make-the-mundane-look-powerful, make-the-old-look-new, rally-around-the-town-square, protest-on-paper, armchair-activism. It is so easy to “like” a meme and move on back to your regular life and feel empowered, feel engaged, all without really influencing or helping anything or anyone. Those likes add up and are measurable, so it is no wonder the Sanders campaign thought that he’s resonating with voters and that he has a critical mass of support.

Every morning before my feet hit the floor I chant to myself, “Likes and Rallies don’t vote.”