“Meme Fail” Part 2–worst advice anywhere

I love memes–I really do. Even if my first post (Read Part One here) about memes suggests otherwise.

I savor the combination of font, photo, and philosophy all distilled into one quick nugget. Some are fabulous, like this one:

well said

Absolutely LOVE Maggie’s expression.

The text doesn’t have to be confined to 140 characters or less, even though politicians, Hollywood-types, and sports coaches desperately try to be pithy and twitterable. Memes can be just a bit more.
A good meme should:

  • have words from something or someone with at least a little bit of credibility–spiritual leaders, philosophers, scientists, authors. Never repost the anonymous ones, or the grammatically incorrect ones. They’ve been written by people who take advice from beer commercials;
  • have a readable font. It can be cute and fun, but NOT too twisty or tangled, or so full of different fonts that anyone over 40 has to take off and put on their reading glasses multiple times just to get through it;
  • have, if available, original art. This can be a photo or an interesting background, but NOT the sun setting on the ocean! PLEASE! No more walking-on-the-ocean-at-sunset photos with any old random saying attached to it. Such as:

sunset meme

A caution about  memes: be careful with any that try to define the condition of one’s heart, eternity, or life. Especially when coupled with a sunset. It’ll make your brain all squishy, and you’ll think, “Hey, that just might be deep.” Here’s a hint–if you don’t understand it, it isn’t deep. Don’t be fooled by that beautiful sunset: it’s all jibber-jabber!

(I know, because that’s my photo and my saying, and I still don’t get it.)

There are many bits of color and words that fail any logic test, yet somehow have bedded down and made a living in Facebook and Pinterest. For example, the blob below:

big success meme

There should be a rule that memes shall not channel fortune cookies, or blatantly lie. (Or have grammar problems, but that’s another rant.) No one can guarantee success, certainly not a melted cherry popsicle with spaghetti noodles on it.

This one below breaks two cardinal rules:

words meme

First, the font is all twisty-tangly, and second, it makes no sense. The teacher in me thinks, “Laziness!”

The English language has, according to the Oxford Dictionary, over 170,000 words, and there are PLENTY of ways to say them! (I suspect these are song lyrics from some emo-college band, written when someone suffered a terrible break-up with their significant other of three weeks. Get back to us when you CAN find a way to say things.
And please don’t add any sunsets when you do.)

I also don’t think memes should make vacuuming difficult:

glitter girl meme

Now, the photo’s nice, the font clear, but the message . . . seriously, have you EVER tried to clean up after someone trailing glitter?! Oh yeah–you don’t forget that chick any time soon.

Then there’s this:

fly meme

Now this one’s just cruel. It’s a bald-faced lie, but enough people have bought into it that it’s made the rounds.

Ok, maybe it’s a metaphor that you will somehow, someday, for some odd reason, suddenly float away. Some unbearable lightness of being?
But if you think about it, that’s also a bad metaphor. I mean, look at this—it’s a BALLOON!
And what would happen if you were a balloon?
Well, if you don’t pop immediately—or have the helium sucked out of you by some people who value beer commercials and want to create their own memes—and if you’re lucky, you’ll float for quite awhile, buffered and batted about by the winds. But then you’ll start to deflate and sink into some dreary wilderness where you’ll be eaten by some poor wild beast which will then get you stuck in its gut and cause it to die.
Hmm, on second thought, maybe this an apt metaphor for life . . .

This next one is just simply dangerous.  “What makes you happy”?

make you happy meme

Well, what makes ME happy is not making dinner.

Not cleaning up the cat barf.

Not cleaning up the house, at all.

Not washing my hands . . . you get the idea.

Do MORE of that?


Sometimes I think we value memes because they introduce a new concept to us, even if that concept is rubbish, as beautifully illustrated here:

unique fork meme

Just because you are unique doesn’t mean you are useful.

Great memes, however, make you think, then think again. They have photos that illustrate, and don’t use sunsets. Their words come from creative people who have dug deep into the world and found some nuggets worth holding up and sharing. Like this:

Terry Pratchett bike history

Each of Terry Pratchett’s books has about fifty meme-able sentences. Maybe I’ll make it my life’s hobby to meme them all.

Right after I find out who’s been meme-ing this other brilliant writer, Neal A. Maxwell:


Ah, meme-worthy!

Miley Cyrus, may I have five minutes?

Oh, my poor girl—are you really so lonely, so desperate, that you’ll do anything to get attention? You don’t have to. You can be a woman—a real woman—without becoming a prostitute, which I’m afraid is what you’ve done. You’re selling your body, but you could do so much more.

First, let’s put you in a classic little black dress, because I just can’t look at you in  . . . whatever it is you’re wearing.

Miley black dress

See? Don’t you feel so much better?

I suspect you want to show you’re not a “good little girl” anymore, although I don’t understand why so many in Hollywood think being “good” is “bad.”

But your behavior isn’t “adult.”
Strutting around in your underwear is what my toddler does.
And pretending to mate in public is what dogs do in the street.

You could do so much more.

Exploiting your body isn’t groundbreaking or original—you’ve just fallen for the oldest trick in the book.  Check the Old Testament—you’ll see that selling your body has been around for thousands of years. It’s not art, it’s vulgarity, and you can do so much better.

Look beyond the cheering fans in the audience, and see the reaction of adults—real adults, not mere grown-ups (my explanation about the difference is here). Adults who, by the millions, learned of your embarrassing exploits via the news.

We’re not cheering—we’re cringing.
Millions of women are rolling their eyes in frustration that, once again, the message has been lost that women have infinite value, fantastic worth, and incredible potential.

Millions of men squirm and look away because your behavior arouses something in them, and it makes them uncomfortable because they prefer to use those feelings for true women who respect and protect their bodies.

And the men who are enjoying you? They’re they same flabby, smelly guys that linger at the bra section of Wal-Mart. Creepy and icky, Miley. You can do so much better.

You could still be a real adult woman.

But right now you’re headed down a path that will not end well. I don’t care how many times you’ve watched “Pretty Woman,” females who sell themselves short don’t have happy endings. Look at Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes. (Actually, let’s not, or I’d have to “paint” little black dresses on them, too.) There are thousands of porn actresses who can tell you about a life of misery and self-loathing. No woman deserves to feel that way about herself. None. Not even you.

You can do so much more.

You want to prove you’re an adult? Than do something adult-worthy. Real adults—real women—use their influence and names for good. You may be too young to know these women, but do a little reading about Princess Diana and how she used her name to change the world’s view of AIDS victims.

Another little black dress . . .

Watch a few Audrey Hepburn movies, then look up how she spent her name and her later years taking care of starving and neglected children.


And another little black dress.

Take a good look at Eleanor Roosevelt, then find out what she did for civil rights when no one else was talking about it.

And yet another classic black dress.

Real women–real adults–do real important things.

So can you.

     Despite the chill in the air, Sareen seemed determined to show Shem exactly what she had to offer. Not surprisingly, several soldiers had converged around Shem to share in the view.
     “Oh Sareen, this is just becoming sad,” Mahrree muttered, wishing someone would point out to the girl—maybe Sareen’s mother, who didn’t seem to be around—that her displaying behavior was most inappropriate.
     . . . But for the moment, Sareen was happy for the attention that, someday, she’d realize she didn’t really want.

~(Soldier at the Door, Book Two)

One parent’s response to Time’s “The Childfree Life”

“When having it all means not having children.”

I read that subtitle from Time Magazine’s “The Childfree Life” and I thought:
When did having it all mean becoming as self-centered as the two-year-olds these non-parents sneer at?

Then I thought: 
When did having it all become the purpose of life?

I don’t think that’s a question many people worry about anymore, but it’s a most important one.

But let’s leave that aside for a moment and look at the question of, What’s the purpose of having kids?

I don’t like the answers of “As a duty to our society,” or “To perpetuate the species,” or “So someone will pay for my social security when I retire.” (That’s my reaction when people accuse me of being “overly reproductive.”)

All of those answers smack of some washed-out diatribe, a dull and pessimistic penance for being on the earth. But parenthood isn’t about passing on misery or fulfilling a duty. It’s about becoming an adult, with attitudes and understanding worthy of the definition of “maturity.”

I’m sure most of us didn’t become parents because we wanted to become “mature,” though. It’s a secondary and unexpected benefit, like panning for gold and finding diamonds as well.

As a young married I wanted a baby because I thought they were cute. I had the same affliction as many people whose pets double as their children: I wanted something to dote on, to dress up, to call “My Widdle Wiggy-wums” in public.

And then I had the baby.

It was nothing like carrying around a pet/pretend child (which we pathetically did with a cat for the year before).

Now, some who choose to be childless may defend their position by claiming their animal is like their baby. And I know they feel love and affection for it, but to believe a pet is the same experience as having baby is like comparing spending the afternoon in a wave pool with a vacation in Hawaii. The difference is miles apart.

I knew I would love my child, but I was completely unprepared for every aspect of the world to suddenly change. (And to also feel stupid for dragging my cat to stores.)

Parenthood causes a shift. I’ve seen it in nearly every new father and mother. The shift may occur as early as during pregnancy, or may not happen until the child reaches the first birthday, but at some point a person shifts from being a self-centered mere grown-up to a full-fledged adult.

What’s the difference?

Mere grown-ups (and it’s easy to become a grown-up; just don’t die before you’re around nineteen) look at the world and muse, I wonder what it can give me today.

Full-fledged adults (a much more fulfilling accomplishment than merely aging) look at the world and cry, Dear God! How do I make this a better place for my baby!? And everyone else’s baby?

It’s a drastic shift, a necessary shift.

The shift makes you forget about your own petty needs and wants (such as a shower and a decent night’s sleep), and makes you rabid about your child’s.

It’s the shift that makes you stop reading the sports page first and start paying attention to the headlines about education.

The shift that makes you more interested in local and national elections, in crime rates in your neighborhood, in safety in transportation, and in how the future will look in twenty years.

The shift moves mountains. Ask any parent whose child has been diagnosed with a mysterious or even fatal disease. They’ll rearrange all kinds of geography and even defy the laws of physics for that child.

In fact, I’m willing to submit that the vast majority of improvements to society—any society, in any year—was started by someone who was a father or a mother.

Because they felt that shift, and realized the world wasn’t about “having it all”; the world is about making it better for everyone.

The surprise of parenthood is that life becomes so much more meaningful when it’s lived for those you care for, rather than just for yourself.

Maybe avoiding this shift is why a certain segment of the population, not only here in America but in many parts of the world, rejects parenthood. They want to stay children themselves, always indulgent. That may sound like a flippant evaluation, but I’m sorry to say that each deliberately childless person I’ve encountered has had the same trait of, “It’s all about me, dear. Now would you tell that child to be quiet? I’m on a conference call here in the park.”

That’s why I submit that childlessness doesn’t solve problems, but it increases them.
I don’t believe that we should have children because one of them may change the world– someday–but I submit that we when we have children we feel the need to make the change–today.

Now I agree that parenthood isn’t some magical bullet that shoots maturity into people.  They are those who have no business having children, who still regard their Chihuahuas with more affection than they do their tweens.

And there are also some true adults who are childless not by choice but by biology, who do more than just send a couple hundred dollars to a children’s hospital and think they’ve done their part for the future of the world. These full-fledged adults dote on their nieces and nephews, volunteer to coach little league and scouts, and teach the children in Sunday school.

I’m worried about the grown-ups who forgot to outgrow the “mine!” period of toddlerhood. Perhaps the most disturbing element about “having it all” is that it resonates with the increasingly pervasive entitlement that seems to be overtaking the developed world. At some point we need to realize that the more each of us tries to have it “all,” the less there is for everyone else.

And when, in the history of the world, was anyone ever happy when they got everything they wanted? Even Alexander the Great cried like a baby (and threw a tantrum like a toddler) when he realized there was nothing left in the world for him to “get.”

Joy has always come from giving more than we get, from serving more than demanding. That invaluable understanding is what parenthood gives you.

And that also, by the way, is the purpose of life.

“My children have me tied?”
The thought had never occurred to Mahrree. True, her life was completely different now. And she didn’t participate in anything outside of the house. And she hadn’t thought about the condition of her hair in nearly two years. Or the condition of her clothes. Or her house. Or garden.
But caring for these little children, who she thought were funny more often than frustrating, loving more often than loud, was an honor. It said so in The Writings, and she’d chosen to believe it from the moment she knew she was expecting her firstborn. And choosing to believe it had made all the difference in her attitude as a mother.
Were they difficult?
For some reason that word just didn’t seem right. 
(Soldier at the Door, Book Two)