On Monday night, Seven Sharp aired a segment warning against the left-leaning political extremist groups, aka meme pages, on Facebook. Madeleine Chapman expands on the report.
It’s a dangerous world out there for young people. No one drives safely, everyone drinks too much, and there’s MDMA laced with something more dangerous than MDMA. But there’s a new threat on the scene exclusive to teenagers. Something that adults have done well to resist but which is sucking in the younger generation at alarming rates. They’re everywhere, they’re nowhere. And as Tim Wilson of Seven Sharp recently discovered, they’re called memes.
Memes, the drug of the youth. A prescribed distraction from the crumbling world their preceding generations have left for them. What even are memes? Why are they evil? How do we stop them?
According to the internet (a dangerous place that should be avoided at all costs), a meme is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or idea. Yes, that’s right. virally-transmitted. Memes are actually a sex disease. They’re also a funny photo with a caption that, more often than not, pokes fun at a person or group’s behaviour.
Reporter Tim Wilson, who usually loves a bit of quirky humour, wasn’t about to be sucked into the dangerous world of memes so easily. Instead, he pressed play on “ominous_s0unds_royalty_free.mp3” and recorded an investigative report for Seven Sharp.
His findings? “A dark ugly secret that could be affecting your teen.” He’s of course referring to Leftbook, a term we all know and love. For the grossly ignorant, Leftbook is political left-wing Facebook, in particular leftie meme pages.
“Joining a meme group is something that all teenagers want to do,” said social media expert Jessica Moloney. “However the meme group they end up joining could be something that actually ends up destroying their life,” she added. So Wilson donned his Kanye West shutter shades and applied to join one of many international, closed meme groups to see how rotten the youth core really is. The names of these groups? Sounds like you might die but ok and I will FORCE-FEED this man WASPS until he BEEHAVES. The group names are a gateway meme drug for your children. Bee warned.
Undercover boss Wilson discovered such hateful things in that closed group he was forced to compare liberal meme pages like Humans of Remuera (a satirical page mocking the wealthy residents of Remuera) to the political extremists that rioted in Charlottesville. Incredibly, Wilson described the Charlottesville Riots – which began with a white nationalist rally and included one white supremacist being charged with murder – as “the political left versus its right-wing enemies, fighting for dominance”. And World War II was just the left and right trying to get the upper hand.
Thanks to some fine editing – at the end of the segment Wilson saying “if you think Facebook’s a kind of friend” is dubbed over rioters brandishing confederate flags – the viewer is left with just one hard fact: memes are evil.
So how can parents identify the symptoms of a Liberally Infected Teen (LIT) and stomp out the disease before it spreads? Here’s a handy guide.
Stage one: happiness
Your child may smile from time to time while looking at their phone. Chances are they’ve seen a meme. It’s made them laugh and now they’re happy, if just for a moment. Don’t worry, you can end this rebellion swiftly. Take away their phone, tell them that memes are dangerous, and check their bank statements to make sure they haven’t recently purchased a pitchfork.
Stage two: resentment
If you failed to notice your child’s happiness but detect that they suddenly have a disdain for the highest tax bracket, you might be too late. Liberal meme pages choose the wealthy and the privileged as their targets. If your teen asks you why there’s no capital gains tax in New Zealand, your child is already LIT. Seek help.
Stage three: open-mindedness
There are rules to getting into the elite left-wing meme groups. Questions must be answered and values must be shared. Call it a hazing if you like. For Wilson to gain acceptance, he had to say that he thought Nazis were bad. I’m telling you, they don’t play around. Just look at these rules, as captured during the Seven Sharp segment.
You may witness your LIT offspring making a conscious effort to not be racist, homophobic, or sexist. This is just one of the possible side-effects of engaging with political meme culture.
Stage four: code language
If, while snooping through your teen’s phone that you confiscated earlier, you find yourself trying to decipher messages that seemingly aren’t written in English, I’m sorry to say that you’ve lost your child. They’ve now fully adopted the language of Leftbook and will soon be unreachable, off retweeting memes about rich, white people and voting Labour. All you can do is learn as much of the language as possible before your leftie meme teen disappears forever. Here’s what little I’ve been able to decipher through extensive undercover work.
LOL – Love Of Liberalism
DTF – Death To Fascism
TFW – Tonight, Fight Whites!
MFW – Memes Forever Woke
BRB – Brokers R Bad
OMFG – Only Memes For Golriz
BAE – Broke And Environmentally (conscious)
LMAO – Liberal Memes Are Our way of punching up to those in positions of power, privilege, and wealth. Conflating young people who make funny pictures with violent extremists is both irresponsible and dangerous. Everyone is at risk of being hurt by what they encounter on social media, not just those belonging to left-leaning meme pages, some of which are made private so as to create a deeper sense of safety. If this scares you, you’ve probably featured in a post or two. Because only a privileged few have the time and luxury to be threatened by weak, liberal memes.
This section is made possible by Simplicity, the online nonprofit KiwiSaver plan that only charges members what it costs, nothing more. Simplicity is New Zealand’s fastest growing KiwiSaver scheme, saving its 12,000 plus investors more than $3.8 million annually in fees. Simplicity donates 15% of management revenue to charity and has no investments in tobacco, nuclear weapons or landmines. It takes two minutes to join.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.