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I don’t know how to pronounce the word meme. You know, those funny little pictures with catchy sayings that are littered across social media. It seems there are more of those than there are actual status updates.

And so many of them are angry. Any time there’s even a minor controversy in the news, new memes appear quicker than a CNN update. And when something really big happens? There is a meme explosion! However, be cautioned: As the Daily Lounge Web site espouses (in a meme, naturally), “If you want to know what’s going on in the world you probably shouldn’t get your news from Internet memes.”

We’re a quick-reaction society. As soon as many of us see something that grabs our attention, we tend to think along the same lines. Before you know it, people are commenting on potentially inflammatory pictures and sharing these to their own personal pages on Facebook, Twitter, etc. The unfortunate part, I think, is that many people make up their mind on an issue before really looking into the entire story.

Let’s look at one example: police killing unarmed miscreants. It seems like this has been a headline way too much. Immediately, it seems to take on a new life online, claiming racism and/or police brutality. But before we just lump all these incidents into one or the other of those categories, why not take a look at the entire story?

Are there some of these police items that involve racism or police going above what they should do? I’m sure there are. But there are many others where I’ll read about constant threats from the civilian. If you fear for your safety, you might react in a similar way. Or you might not. If you wave a weapon of any kind at a cop, you’d best expect the possibility of lethal force.

Every life is sacred; it’s never good when someone gets shot, no matter what he or she was doing. But let’s not just jump on the latest bandwagon. I’ve written in the past about looking at both sides of an issue; sometimes we need to read past the first paragraph of a news story. At the very least, we should read past the funny meme we see on Facebook.

The President is another easy target. It seems no matter what Mr. Obama does or does not do, someone will target him. Did he lower the flag to half-staff as soon as he possibly could to acknowledge the loss of someone? Oops, no he didn’t, but he sure lit up the White House in rainbow colors after the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage – meme it up! I even saw one decrying a Marine holding an umbrella over the President’s head during a speech when it was raining. Is that really worth getting worked up over? Would we see the same attacks if a Republican were in the White House, from the same people? I have a feeling the answer is yes; some people look for any reason to get outraged, no matter who’s in charge.

And these things escalate quickly. I’ve seen people comment on some of these memes, trying to give information on the other side of the issue or just plain refuting the idea. Those people get slammed immediately, which is what keeps me from commenting on any of them. I just want folks to stop and think before really putting out something that often ends up being offensive in retrospect.

And isn’t that the biggest problem with the Internet? It’s so easy to click a button and then realize you can’t take it back. Some of you are out there reading this and thinking, “This guy is full of it. He writes things that offend me. Why doesn’t he follow his own advice?” I’m glad you asked. I do follow that advice. I have yet to send my first draft of a column to the paper. I write it, put it aside for a couple of days, read it again, make revisions, and then send it in. I always ask myself if I really believe some of the more volatile opinions I put out there.  Do I know the whole story? Often, on a second reading, I’ll dig a little deeper in research before finally sending it off.

For example, when I wrote about the Confederate Flag kerfuffle in Albert Lea, I bet I went over that section ten times and even asked Michelle if I was getting across the point I hoped to. I had seen so much nonsense online from both sides of the issue that I hoped to be very clear. I fear though, that in our quicker all the time world, the normal gut reaction will continue to cause problems.

By the way, I looked up how to pronounce meme. It’s a long e sound and rhymes with seem. Now I have to train myself to say it that way. Maybe I should make a meme about it.

Word of the Week: This week’s word is fribble, which means to fritter away, as in, “The social media follower fribbled away much time looking for memes to slander people he didn’t like.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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