The ‘Meme Culture’ has taken social media by storm in recent years. Not only has it given cause for laughs and banter, but it has also affected politics in an unprecedented manner. In ‘rightwing’ corners of the internet, it’s often joked, Donald Trump is the first President to be ‘memed’ into the White House.
It’s true in many respects. Donald Trump used social media to spread his ideas with remarkable efficiency and ‘trolls’ on the internet did the rest. Despite the establishment’s desperate efforts to discredit him, ‘trolls’ made it fun to support his candidacy. And that went a long way towards securing his electoral victory.
In India, too, the ‘meme culture’ has taken root and like in the United States, it’s primarily dominated by young people associated with the ‘rightwing’. Since 2017, the politician most memed perhaps has been the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. The rightwing meme culture grew as a revolt against the establishment and as a consequence, the more aversion the establishment holds for a politician, the more it endears the politician to the ‘trolls’. I have spoken about it at some length here.
A barrage of Yogi Adityanath memes took the internet by storm when the saffron-clad Mahant’s penchant for restoring the names of places became the focus of media’s attention. The content of the memes revolved around Yogi Adityanath changing the names of celebrities. Pakistani Sarfraz Ahmed, WWE Wrestler Batista, pop star Justin Bieber, all featured in the memes revolving around Yogi Adityanath.
The memes, most probably, originated from leftwing circles who were using the memes to mock Yogi Adityanath. However, the trend was soon picked up by people on the right as well to cheer on the new poster-boy of Hindutva. One celebrity who became central to this was the flamboyant cricketer Chris Gayle. According to the meme template, Yogi Adityanath had renamed him as ‘Krishna Goyal’ and the cricketer could be seen chanting ‘Mandir Wahi Banayengey’.
The whole thing was a joke and was treated as such by everyone. People on social media have a fair idea about what memes are. But unfortunately, it appears outlets like Times of India do not.
In fact. TOI did an entire fact-check on the joke. Fact-check joke, if one thought the mainstream media couldn’t get more ridiculous, well, you are in for a surprise. TOI proclaims proudly that Chris Gayle aka Krishna Goyal has not joined the BJP. Well, thank you, Genius!
In their fact-check, they have used multiple posts where the user clear calls Chris Gayle ‘Krishna Goyal’ as an obvious reference to the running joke about the cricket transforming into a Hindutvavadi.
They have even used a tweet that was clearly made in jest.
— kunal parira (@parira_kunal) April 27, 2018
That Fact-Checkers are actually using their plentiful resources to fact-check jokes on the internet only goes on to show the glowing scarcity of intellect in media houses. It also goes on to highlight that most of these fact-checkers have a dedicated agenda to paint a certain political party in bad light. Perhaps, it is even an effort to influence results of ‘research’ when an institute or a group of ‘researchers’ take it upon themselves to investigate the causes of Fake News like the BBC did. But at its core, it reveals the clearly political nature of these ‘fact-checkers’.
All in all, contrary to popular perceptions in media circles, people on social media are smart enough to realise that ‘Krishna Goyal’ hasn’t joined the BJP. Perhaps, the resources of these biased fact-checkers will be better spent in fact-checking the many lies that Rahul Gandhi speaks on a daily basis.