Meme Buster

Maybe I’m just a jerk, but when people post these memes to social network sites that make factual claims, I actually go and research them and respond back.  I know it’s like spitting in the wind, because memes travel faster than actual truth.  But I feel like its sometimes necessary to correct someone if I feel like what they’re saying is bogus.

The Foreign Aid Meme

In America – The Homeless go without eating.
In America – The Elderly go without needed medicines.
In America – The Mentally ill go without treatment.
In America – Our Troops go without proper equipment.
In America – Our Veterans go without benefits they were promised.
Yet we donate billions to other countries before helping our own first.
Have the guts to re-post this. 1% will re-post, 99% won’t.

The Point: Why are we spending so much in foreign aid when we’re not accomplishing what we need to back home.

The Reality:   The amount we spend on foreign aid pales in comparison to what we’re spending on entitlement programs that directly address the issues at play in this meme.   This NY Times infographic shows you visually the amount spent in the federal budget in 2011 and where it was going.  The highlights:

Social Security – 738 billion
Medicare – 498 billion
Health Initiatives – 381 billion
National Defense – 738 billion
Veterans Benefits – 251 billion

Total = $2 Trillion & $606 Billion

Compare that to: International affairs – 65.32 billion

That number includes not only all the money spent in foreign aid, but also the entire budget of the State Department, which operates our embassies in nearly every country of the world and maintains diplomatic relations with those nations.  The money spent abroad pales in comparison to what is spent at home.  So before we go complaining that we’re just “giving away the farm” to foreign countries, let’s back it up and ask why all the trillions of dollars we’re spending here isn’t quite cutting it.

The Heat vs. War Meme

Ok folks I am seeing the most complaints about the heat coming from individuals that have A/C. Get over yourselves, stop watching the thermometer and acknowledge the fact it is hot out and that after a point you really can’t tell the difference between 95 or a 105, because it’s all hot. And remember there are those who are not as fortunate as you who don’t have A/C, and remember 1.) It isn’t 109 degrees; 2.) I’m not 5,700 miles from home; 3.) I’m not dressed in a full BDU uniform and helmet and carrying 70+ lbs.; and 4.) There is very little chance that anyone will shoot at me or that I might drive over a bomb in the road today! Thanks to all who serve., so quit cher bichen.

The Point: Complaining about the heat is nothing compared to being in a war, and we don’t have air conditioning either.

The Reality: This meme implies that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have no air conditioning at all.  In fact, the U.S. military is spending $20.2 billion a year on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan annually.  Yes, war is hell, and when you’re out in the field it’s hot as blazes.  But that’s not all the time, and we’re spending an absolute fortune in air conditioning to keep our troops from dying of the heat over there.  And for the record, you can tell the difference between 95 and 105.  When the external temperature rises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit more people develop hyperthermia, especially those who are more vulnerable like children and seniors. This is why cities declare heat emergencies and direct people to cool off shelters to prevent death.

Both of these memes are playing on emotional situations: the heartbreak of poverty, the horror of war.  But the facts are grossly distorted to make a point, which in a moment of critical thinking and research one could easily refute.  But again, that’s beside the point memes are the chain letters of our era.  With every refutation there comes another onslaught of reshares.

So how do you bust a meme?  You can’t really.  It’s already probably flown around the world twice before you could blink an eye.  But what you can do is:

  • explain the facts to your friends who post memes, which may discourage them from resharing in the future.
  • write a corrected version of the meme which provides a link to the facts.
  • OR, and best of all, don’t share memes yourself, especially if you haven’t verified their accuracy

Remember kids: Friends don’t let friends share memes.



2 comments on “Meme Buster

  1. Brent says:

    Your cool, nice work. 🙂

  2. B Jones says:

    This meme is enjoying new life in the UK and NZ as well as Australia.

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