Last week a friend sent me a text asking something to the extent of, “Can there ever be ‘Christian’ memes?” The question struck me as odd so I didn’t reply, but it has provided me with much to think about since then. Christian memes? Can such a thing be generated? What would that look like?
If you read a lot of my posts you may gather that I am a big fan of viral marketing and sleeper hit advertising campaigns. More than anything I guess I enjoy the revelation of people’s interests and thought patterns manifest in their reactions to successful attempts to part them with their money. Product (Red). Mountain Dew partnering with extreme sports. Red Bull Flugtag. Dominoes Pizza soliciting fan pictures of pizza to use in their promotional literature. Free shoes from Chrome Industries. Ideas that, once acted upon, generate intense interest and participation from people around the world.
Memes, at least in the colloquial, are kind of like this, but restricted to inside the realm of the Internet. When we here “meme” we think of things like the Numa Numa dance, archaic raps, poorly translated Japanese video games, songs that question the underlying mechanics of magnets, and philosophical velociraptors (philosoraptors). These memes spread like wildfire and, like any good ad campaign, generate a tremendous amount of user-generated content as denizens of the Interwebs try to jump on board and garner impressive amounts of view-counts, whether it be on a video, picture, or webpage, of their own material. Memes bring out the id superstar in us who wants to rule our sphere of influence. We like to show how creative we can be.
So what would a “Christian” memes look like? Photoshopped pictures of King David being a badass? Auto-tuned dcTalk songs?
“Hip” Christian slogan ideas Bible verses in lolspeak? I can only think of retarded ideas. Christian memes based on these ideas would turn out like the rest of the so-called “Christian culture”, most of which is just regular culture watered-down and sterilized. So much of “Christian” culture seems to be about generating religious-themed merchandise that people can “feel good” about buying and, once they do, revel in proclaiming their “lifestyle” to the world. It’s a picture of Jesus screen-printed onto the twisted t-shirt of ethical consumerism. A little more to the point, what would be the goal of generating said “Christian” meme? To spread the Gospel? To publicize a church? To convey the importance of incorporating a rational way of addressing pain and suffering into your worldview? These things are much to important to be trivialized by a mere meme.
And therein lies my main objection to Christianizing the meme. Internet memes are only done for moar lulz; never for anything really important. They are here today gone tomorrow - the very digital embodiment of that which does not matter. Something that should truly slide. If anything, why don’t we Christians focus our energies in pointing out God in what society already finds meme-worthy, such as how cool (and, also, sweet) it is that God wants to display two rainbows at once. Sure the song has a bleeped curse word in it, but should that keep us from appreciating how bright and vivid that rainbow is? Show your friends and be like, “Hey, my God does that.” It’s certainly better than any t-shirt idea I have.