Monday, June 27

‘Ayusadas’ and other memes that eat the networks | Elections in Madrid 4M


There were those who baptized them as “ayusadas”. Since the arrival to power of the newly re-elected president of the Community of Madrid, in August 2019, there have been verbal occurrences, jokes and striking images of Isabel Díaz Ayuso. On the internet, you are spliced they spread like wildfire. Some examples: the meme (a photographic montage that is distributed through social networks) in which he posed with a paving stone in the Madrid Assembly on February 18, accusing the left of promoting incidents due to the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél, accumulates more than 50,000 results on Google. Those of his controversial perched on the cover of The world at the end of May, 117,000.

As was the case with Donald Trump during his tenure, the dominance of marketing Ayuso’s politician hijacks our attention thanks to a studied and powerful imaginary called to compulsively share ourselves, to unleash a wave of emotions in the digital debate that amplify its presence. Ayuso obtained more than a million mentions on Twitter in the last 10 days of the campaign, points out the PhD in Telematics and analyst of the propagation of messages on Twitter Mariluz Congosto. In the final stretch of the campaign, Congosto counted 135,631 profiles that published tweets or retweeted their name. The accounts associated with the left and the independence movement mentioned her more than her own party, the PP.

Mariluz Congosto

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Before the avalanche of spliced, there are those who respond by putting trenches, also in consumption and dissemination with satirical intent. “Think of a political argument from Ayuso. You probably won’t be able to remember more than two. Now think of a meme about her. Even if you are not interested in politics, you remember more than five ”, read the statement from Es Solo Un Meme, a community of creators that decided not to share or produce montages of the president during the campaign. About thirty accounts were added, politicized creators who focus their agenda on feminism, mental health, job insecurity, housing and the absence of future prospects. “The strike does not consist so much in depriving us of criticizing their policies through memes, but in refusing to enter that game of emptying their image of meaning”, clarifies the author of Neuraceleradísima (23,600 followers), who prefers not to give his name.

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Almost half a century after biologist Richard Dawkins defined “meme” as a cultural unit ready to replicate, it has evolved relentlessly, reproducing the rhythms and ways in which society expresses itself and thinks about itself. “It has become an alternative medium that is consumed as fast food and works as a political mental bomb,” he says in his essay. Internet Memes And Society Anastasia Denisova, a journalism professor at Westminster, who analyzes the impact of meme culture on new politics: from the resistance to Putin during the Crimean crisis in 2014 to the 2016 US elections, when this type of digital consumption exploded polarized. Brian Friedberg, a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Technology and Social Change Project, thinks it makes sense that Ayuso, a candidate often defined as a Trumpist, would receive support. online similar to that of the former US president. “And the strategy of the left of memes critical of Trump could be considered a factor that contributed to his popularity,” he warns.

The leaders of the PP celebrate the victory of Díaz Ayuso on May 4.
The leaders of the PP celebrate the victory of Díaz Ayuso on May 4.Samuel Sánchez

Julia Ebner, a researcher at the London Institute for Strategic Dialogue and author of The secret life of extremists: how I infiltrated the darkest places on the internet (Today’s Topics), points out that many activists of the alt-right they believe that Trump won thanks to his memetic war in the networks. “Since then, the European activists of the Network, in particular of the new right, have begun to adopt similar tactics for their campaigns because they consider them a success,” he emphasizes. Ebner acknowledges that stopping the publication of ironic content is complicated from the perspective of freedom of expression, but emphasizes the importance of stopping memes (even those that are funny) “when the essence is the message of hatred, it is politically manipulative or it is based on misinformation ”. Jason Stanley, Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and author of Look. How fascism works and how it has entered your life (Blackie Books), takes this theory to the extreme to understand how irony applied to certain types of messages is counterproductive. “Let’s go to the most obvious representations of fascism: it is not possible to share a swastika ‘just as an ironic joke.’ A swastika is associated with an impact, sharing it as a joke does nothing to mitigate it. We all understand that it would be strange to post a swastika with ‘ha ha’ and a wink ”. For Stanley, the political essence of that content called to be replicated on the Internet is the key to the whole matter: “If a meme has a fascist symbolic weight, saying that you are joking by sharing it will not eliminate that weight. If it still doesn’t have much fascist symbolic weight, if your Instagram followers are not familiar with it, you still run the risk of strengthening that symbolic association with fascism by sharing it. “

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An April report by the Jean-Jaurès Foundation in France was committed to “not stopping the political fight against extreme right-wing ideas, because simple moral opposition and mere stigmatization are quite ineffective” in the face of Le Pen’s rise. From platforms such as Es Solo Un Meme and Don’t Destroy Them (21,000 followers) are clear: “The reaction of the ‘scandalized liberal’ is counterproductive, what they need to perceive themselves as dissidents of the establishment of the politically correct ”, say the first. No Les Des Casito bets on what it calls the “sandwich strategy”: “When we have to address a false or hate message, we start by explaining the truth to give context. The first impression is defining. Then we indicate the lie (it is better not to reproduce the exact words, the meaning can be alluded to without transferring biases, false equivalences or other tricky rhetoric). Finally, we close with the truth to reaffirm it and further expose the lie ”. It is not as easy as sharing that meme instantly, but these creators are convinced that doing so is anything but innocent.

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