CHENNAI: With the Assembly elections round the corner, political memes have started to flood the internet. Most of these memes use screenshots of movie scenes or sports sequences with captions based on funny dialogues to either criticize or make fun of political leaders or their party decisions.
For instance, soon after the DMK-Congress seat-sharing deal was signed on Monday, memes criticizing the Congress party’s inability to win in these seats started to flow.
One particular meme, uses a frozen clip from a recent Tamil film Naanum Rowdy Dhaan to ridicule DMK’s move to allot 41 seats to Congress was shared by more than 300 users within an hour in Facebook.
Not just this meme, most of them become viral in no time. Particularly, with the advent of WhatsApp, it becomes almost impossible to track the penetration rate. But the question now is that are these popular elements just silly jokes or do they turn persuasive when it comes to voting?
Social psychologists, IT wings of political parties and meme creators stay divided over this issue. “The impact would be only over next generation and even they would vote based on views of other family members,” said professor Madhava Soma Sundaram from Social Psychology Network, Wesleyan University. Sundaram added that even when the penetration happens among people in the age group 30-40, they saw it as a stress buster and never a vote deciding element.
While all these years, meme creation was about individuals or groups. But now, even recognised political parties have started to create memes in an attempt to defame other leaders. However, Vishakan Soundararajan, a popular city-based meme creator said that not many among them were driven by political ideologies and they see it as an entertaining medium to convey messages easily.
Professor Sundaram said that these memes would lose steam in the next five years as indicated by the downtrend in usage of Facebook worldwide in terms of time spend per log in and frequency and only well-researched content rich elements would survive on digital platforms.
Surya from BJP IT wing said that though it is common across the world, other countries have laws to identify and prosecute violators.
Unless cyber crime laws are framed, differentiating genuineness would be a problem and there is always a possibility of a good tool being misused.