Memes may contribute to teenage obesity, lawmakers told

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by hazyshadeofwinter, Oct 18, 2018.

  1. hazyshadeofwinter

    hazyshadeofwinter Grand Dame

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2018
    Messages:
    1,369
  2. Aurora08

    Aurora08 Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2018
    Messages:
    12
    So I just read the evidence as well as the linked article and I have to say that I overall agree with them. Especially the point where it says "It is worrying that Internet meme content... produces a predominate sense of happiness regardless of the underlying tone or image used". No matter how serious the topic, memes always have this underlying message aka "whatever haha", as if nothing could ever be serious enough to raise concerns.

    These days, there are alot of memes like this one:
    [​IMG]
    I'm sure the majority of teenagers (and others) would find this soo funny..Pretty sad actually, how much eating disorders, especially those connected with overeating, are normalised by those memes.

    Definitely an interesting study, I'm curious to see if the trend will change in the following years with all the fitness influencers and what not.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Olgiata

    Olgiata Rising Star

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
    308
    There's something that rubs me the wrong way about memes like that, in particular those related to mental health issues/breakdowns/depression.
    I'm not even sure who makes them or how they come about, however I find this highly disturbing.

    The only reason I can come up with, is that it may potentially alleviate the sense of guilt for having these self-destructing thoughts by infusing some sort of comical element into it, and spreading it to the wide world for reassurance that they are not alone.
    I guess to each their coping mechanism, but that doesn't sound very healthy to me.

    Don't get me wrong, some memes are genuinely hilarious, but the ones we're referring to take a twisted character and should definitely not be encouraged.

    Hopefully with this trend emerging of acknowledging mental health disorders ('it's okay not to be okay') - at least in the UK - will partly alleviate and help the people that are in dire need of help ,and turned them to a more constructive aid and/or entity.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. proseccoprincess

    proseccoprincess Rising Star

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2018
    Messages:
    415
    I have to disagree with this article. First, because obesity has been on the rise since way before memes existed, and second, because memes are simply a reflection of society, people's lives, and youth humor. I don't think many teens are going to be motivated to gorge themselves on fast food just from seeing a meme about being unhealthy.

    And, let's not forget that most of these memes (i.e. "clean eating" chocolate bar, hamburger man next to attractive people) are self deprecating in nature. If you went to see an overweight comedian who made jokes about how bad he smells and how he can't get a date, would that then motivate you to replicate his lifestyle choices?

    This just seems like the "video games make kids violent" argument. Thin/fit bodies, or at least bodies of a healthy BMI, are revered in media which teens are equally exposed to as they are to memes, and these bodies are held up on a pedestal, not laughed at. If there isn't a huge craze of teens going to the gym and eating healthy to look like a celebrity, then why would there be a craze of eating unhealthy to resemble... a meme?

    (I think if anything in youth culture today has a negative effect on teens in propagating obesity, it's those disgusting Mukbang videos and food review videos. The behavior in those videos is actually something a teen might want to emulate, since the food looks appealing and the person making the video is likely a popular content creator whom teens idolize. My sister- who is 12 years old and super skinny- has recently taken to ordering way more food than she can eat at a restaurant, seemingly with an intention to order a super large amount of food. She never finishes more than 1/3rd of it though :lol: bless her tiny stomach and fast metabolism...)
     
    • Agree Agree x 8
    • Like Like x 2
  5. elle_w00ds

    elle_w00ds Rising Star

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    Messages:
    415
    I just quickly skimmed the article, but (1) it doesn't say that memes alone are responsible for the obesity epidemic, and (2) that memes "are simply a reflection of society, people's lives, and youth humor" is not something I accept without substantiation. I construe memes as communicative vehicles with potential discursive impact, which is why I've (offline, not on SGF) voiced some concern with the broader comedic domain with which such content registers whereby unhealthy and unsavory behaviour is effectively normalised through their perpetuation in jokes. Because, yes, the angle is often self-deprecatory, but the only reason why such memes succeed is that people recognise the content as common to more than just themselves, which implicitly contributes to the increased acceptance of bad habit xyz, whether procrastination, laziness, binge-eating, or something else.

    That said, I am vehemently against censorship of any speech and find the authoritarian sentiment of whatever "meme ban" has been issued highly disconcerting.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Love Love x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  6. proseccoprincess

    proseccoprincess Rising Star

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2018
    Messages:
    415
    I agree with this, and it was what I was trying to imply in my statement(, unsuccessfully so,) but I don't think this kind of sentiment is unique to just memes. There are a ton of documentaries about the obesity crisis which paint unhealthy eating habits in a dangerous, upsetting light, as opposed to a sympathetic one, but they aren't now, nor were they ever, reaching and impacting a large teen audience. Thus I would have to assume that before memes existed, some other colloquial form of media/communication amongst teens was having a similar effect on this demographic that doesn't care too much about their eating habits.

    Therefore, the real question is- is our unhealthy eating a result of its normalization in the media, or is the normalization simply an unhealthy coping mechanism? I think that clearly the problem had to have started before we began to societally accept it/normalize it, so therefore the article is misleading in its claim that memes "contribute" to teenage obesity- or at least poorly worded. Could memes advance or propagate teenage obesity? Possibly, but I'd want to see more substantial evidence than what was provided (difficult since memes are a relatively new phenomenon.)

    I also think research on how people respond to comedy/how seriously people take comedy could be useful. I'd assume that most people can separate a joke about the relatability of sitting on the couch whole day, eating a pint of ice cream, etc. from their personal health goals and motivation, but I have nothing to base that on except my personal anecdote.

    (Can you tell I'm mid-philosophy essay right now?? :lol: I think someone could ask me what I want for dinner and I'd lay out a structured argument in response)
     
  7. hazyshadeofwinter

    hazyshadeofwinter Grand Dame

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2018
    Messages:
    1,369
    I don't have a whole lot to add - I agree with bits of what everyone had said and can see both sides of the argument.

    But I did want to say that I am continually impressed by the overall intelligence and thoughtfulness of ya'll... the premise of the site may be/sound petty but there's so much more to it. I'm genuinely grateful for this space.

    *I may also be day drunk (on holiday) and suffering from a bad case of the feels :p
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Love Love x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Delirium

    Delirium Grand Dame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,109
    I work with young adults, and part of my job is working on awareness around alcohol consumption. Our focus isn't on stopping people from drinking, but rather focusing on responsible intake and lowering the use of alcohol to deal with problems in ones life (warning signs of alcoholism).

    I generally find that a lot of drinking memes can be a bit damaging. People who want to drink will drink anyway, and people with an unhealthy relationship with alcohol will have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol regardless of memes. However - what memes do is normalize the behaviour. Seeing loads of memes about drinking because of a rough day, sticking straws straight in to the bottle because you're single / not getting along with family / stressed about exams normalizes the idea that it is an ok coping mechanism, shared between a lot of people. It won't make people drink necessarily, but it might make people who have an iffy relationship with alcohol - but who don't have full blown dependecy, think that the behaviour is more normal than it is, and doesn't require adressing.

    As long as you tell yourself that your behaviour is normal, it is easier to ignore the fact that maybe it's not healthy. Memes about eating might not encourage people to eat to excess, but it might help them bury their heads in the sand about the fact that they need to adress an unhealthy behavioural pattern.

    Honestly, the people I work with would balk at the idea of having a glass of wine at home on a weekday, but are more than happy to stuff their faces with sugar when they are stressed, tired, or have had a long day. I think that is more damaging to their bodies, and sugar addiction is very real. They are so focused on one type of dependency they aren't looking at the bigger picture. They have normalized their own unhealthy behaviour, and don't see the similarities between using alcohol and using food to self-medicate, which is sad.

    Memes are a cultural product, and what those memes say is "it's perfectly normal and good for you to use junk food and snacks to cope. We all do it". That is not a healthy message, and it can contribute to people not adressing their own destructive behaviour, even if it doesn't cause it.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 2
    • Love Love x 2
  9. Pynchonesque

    Pynchonesque Worker Bee

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    140
    Britain could start by banning the unnecessary junk that is added to so much of our food before blaming the internet. :hahano:

    There will never be a 'meme ban' because what they're suggesting is a meme isn't even a meme - thats just an idea thats championed for a while.
    'Banning' memes would require banning in-jokes, trends, Adidas Superstars or slang as well. Yes, I know I just took it literally...

    The internet 'clique (*eye roll*)' I'm part of introduced me to memes, they were candid and just in-jokes with each other. We never shared them outside 'The Clique'.
    One of them was just photos of bread rolls, and the one that had me fully accepted into the clique was simply 'and that was the news today' with this 'feel like a sir' face. We're all still close, years later and most of what we have in common are those ideas/memes/jokes and the campaigns we did. It was stupid, simple fun.
    Outside of the clique, my favourite memes are The Simpsons memes and philosophy memes (it lends itself so well to the idea of fast-ideology).

    I detest memes that bring levity and glamour to mental illness like I detest self-deprecation (not humility, totally different). Whether it's normalising cultural binge eating or throwing glamour all over borderline personality disorder, both of which are damaging to a point - it's a disgrace to the whole art of internet based memes.
    Most aren't even funny, which was the point, but also it was supposed to be an idea that was 'relatable' and because it's the internet: comedic - a huge percent of this crap is just wallowing, which in any medium is annoying.

    Oddly, I had this discussion this past spring about the psychological effect of memes - they weren't going for the obesity angle, they were going for the depression angle.
    While I agree that it is unhelpful towards those who are depressed in the same way that being on an ED (even a straight diet site, now I think about it) site hurts recovering-disordered people - it normalises behaviours which skews ones own thoughts - I'm just annoyed that the memes that are genuinely funny are being phased out in favour of the most boring ideas. I stopped logging into my social media because of the saturation of mental illness as a commodity.


    Figured I'd quote you here, Elle, because this is an issue that I think needs clarification. I share your stance of anti-censorship (however, I also think that my, and certainly a handful of others' paranoia is warped and easily seduced to appear at irrelevant times. The fear based manipulation is disgusting) so this isn't entirely directed towards you, but does address your concern.

    No need to be disconcerted!

    It isn't as simplistic as that, and although the spin on it for the past few months has been adamant, it really has little to do with censorship (unless you're talking about the fact that the Swedish government decided the 'Distracted Boyfriend' meme was sexist... which is something else). You only need look at the companies that are lobbying against it to see how little about true censorship it is and more about finance.

    Succinctly, because the big ones (Google, FB, Twitter) don't pay proper taxes due to loopholes, the EU is clumsily trying to claw money out of a 'new' format of sharing in the name of 'giving control back to the European creative industry', but also because it's costing them a huge amount.

    The panic is ridiculous. It all regards copyright and hyperlinking (which as we all know is a quick way for a person who has to host a website and pay for bandwidth to rack up a huge bill - limiting that is not a bad thing, some people go crazy and hotlink 8MB photos - don't get me started on GIFs - which is a load of data to be shelling out for) which is why Imgur.com banned forums from using them as a host (specifically jcink, IF, pro boards etc), I imagine that is one of the reasons SGF is safeguarded from hot linking images as there are a lot of guests browsing and the photos that are uploaded are usually very high quality.

    Alleged 'meme bans' are simply a side effect in that they won't be as easily shareable - I personally think thats a good thing as it will encourage people to use real words and language instead of being idle.. but at the same time? It isn't going to change much of anything.

    What the businesses and their law teams are suggesting is capable of 'eradicating' Google News is stupid - they'll never stop RSS feeds, and a glamorous RSS feed with advertising is all Google News is... and the fact YouTube(Google) 'warned' against it? :hahano:

    There is no 'meme ban'. They just want 'responsible' use of data to be enforced instead of being glossed over (the copyright laws have always been there, the terms of 'fair use' are just very hazy!) and the 'mad men' behind these huge businesses are appealing to the main user base of their sites by yelling buzz that they'll relate with (and like you and I would in terms of censorship).

    It's very manipulative, actually, when at the core of the issue in 'theory' it will help a lot of young European musicians, artists and writers - although that I find suspect as well, if we're being frank, which thanks to the premise of the site I assume we all are.

    ...I could ramble a little about how I worry that 'pasted' links etc would then be archived and invoiced, so individual users and their traffic might then be at risk (and doesn't that just yet again conflict with the new GDPR laws?) but I won't, I'll go bury my head in the sand and pretend my privacy is perfect instead.
    and so on, and so on... *sniff* ;)

    Sorry I haven't replied, work scooped me up, but I'm back.. and this is what I say in reply to this:

    [​IMG]
    Love you, Wittgenstein. ;]
     
    #9 Pynchonesque, Oct 21, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
    • Love Love x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Macer

    Macer Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2018
    Messages:
    18
    You've talked a lot about normalization of a certain behavior by memes here. I think there could be another way to explain the claims made in the article. There was a study published in 2015 about obesity awareness. According to this study, obesity awareness could be causing obesity. People who know they are obese, eat (and gain) more than those don't know they are obese. After reading the article and comments in this thread, I thought the problem with these memes could be, that they make people accept that they are obese. (it's also been researched that obese people deny their obesity, and rather classify themselves as overweight than obese.) When they see these memes, they relate to them and recognize themselves and perhaps finally accept that they in fact are obese. This puts them in a position, where they eat more (an article about the study to state this is linked below). It could work the same way to those who are overweight - leading them to eat more and turn into obese.

    https://www.theguardian.com/society...-causing-overeating-finds-international-study

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/14/obese-britons-dont-think-they-have-weight-problem

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/09/overweight-teenagers-think-they-are-right-size-study
     
    • Like Like x 2

Share This Page