In the essay “To Meme or not to Meme”, Maya Walker speaks upon the harsh reality of depression and suicide, and her own experience with them. Mental illnesses can stem from many different things. However, in Maya’s case, her depression came from social media- memes, in particular. A meme is a picture, commonly shared on social media, that is funny, relatable, or brings someone joy. In the past several years, accounts have started to make light of depression by making memes about them. She goes into great detail explaining how the severity and importance of these illnesses is made fun of and diminished on different internet platforms. People will say “kill me” or “this makes me want to die”, with the drop of a hat, making it seem like it’s a laughing matter. Maya does a very good job explaining how these issues need more attention, and not in the light that she speaks about. By telling a personal story and giving reasons that are backed up by her own life, she grasps the audience’s attention and seemingly forces them to believe what she is saying. This essay does a great job of portraying the importance of depression and suicide, and Maya gives sufficient evidence that help support her own story. An example of when she uses this evidence is when she says “According to Loughborough University, the practice of negative meme-sharing may even be “indicative of a larger apathy” (Casey et al, 2018), which suggests underlying issues more significant than “just a joke” from both the producer and the consumer.” Maya is straightforward with saying that there is fact based evidence that these memes are downplaying the significance of suicide.
Another element that stuck out in her essay was Maya’s genuine concern for the younger generation that might be seeing these memes. What if a child with a family history of depression sees them, and begins to compress their own feelings? In her paper, she quotes “‘Direct and indirect exposure to suicidal behavior has been shown to precede an increase in suicidal behavior in persons at risk for suicide, especially in adolescents and young adults’”. This fact from the United States Department of Health and Human Services is perfectly placed with her argument that young adults are at risk. By seeing these memes making a joke out of mental illnesses not only shows them that people their age are depressed, but that their depression is something to push aside, or laugh at. She then goes on to say that we live in an unfortunate time where the internet is a place to go for people to escape.