It's Friendship Day! But if this was 1998 (Hi, SRK from 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai'), you'd be at the local neighbourhood market buying a dozen friendship bands for your original BFF, then your best friend who sits next to you in school and shares their lunch with you three lectures before the recess, your best friend who is actually your biggest crush (but of course you don't have the courage to tell them that), your best friend in the school bus, your best friend who plays football with you during the games period, your best friend in the neighbourhood, your best friend who lent you CDs of the latest computer games.
Ah, good days. But the good days of 'friendship bands' are so passe. Sorry, Rahul, you need to upgrade your game if you want to patao Tina now.
It's 2018 and in the age of the millennials who are living along the ever-expanding boundaries of madness and frenzy, the keen determination to fulfill myopic goals and constantly document every mundane detail of their first-world existence is very real.
Memes have now replaced friendship bands to become the new parameter of assessing the worth of a friendship. More frequent the sharing of memes between two friends, deeper their shared connection goes. Comically frozen pictures do the job now, there is no need for words or long texts anymore.
But what is a meme? Memes essentially seek to analyse the embarrassing nuances of reality by slowing and then freezing it in comical snaps. They are often appended by a caption which dilutes any apparent seriousness. These captions ensure that the underlying message does not impinge on the viewer directly. For instance, a brutally realistic meme depicting racism will always need a caption to somewhat mitigate the force of it.
For 22-year-old Arman Khan, an engineering graduate from Mumbai University, "Memes cleverly articulate those things in the world for which a traditional dialogue is inadequate. A single meme can substitute hours of endless texting."
The days of traditional texting on WhatsApp are being steadily taken over by tagging friends on public comment threads of memes.
On the surface, these memes are random or so they seem, but if you observe the pattern closely they always point towards a certain connection of shared sensibilities-- whether it is friends continuously spamming each other with Game of Thrones memes because they are not over their addiction to the series even after seven years or friends who will share Taimur memes because they realise the obsession is so overrated.
The dynamic motion of the tandav dance represented in the Nataraj statue of Lord Shiva can be easily deciphered merely by looking at Shiva's flowing hair. Similarly, memes too represent our 'relatable realities' with the most economic use of multimedia and text.
A very important component of friendship is the courage to say sorry when mistakes are made (Cue Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: "But he's your friend, yaaaaaaar."). In a pre-meme world, apologies between friends were generally static a.k.a "I'm sorry, yaar." But now, you can enhance that apology with a meme which is also the common denominator signifying all that you previously laughed about. Ta-da!
24-year-old Kshitij Singh says, "My best friend and I often get into a lot of arguments over the silliest things. We never say sorry to each other, if we send each other memes, we know we're on good terms."
In the millennial world, every action has a meaning frequency of sharing memes with your closed ones defines your intimacy with a person. The number of memes you share with a supposed friend is directly proportional to the level of compatibility. But let's say some hypothetical differences crop up, and the insecure generation that we are - we obviously do not convey our emotions. Simply because we don't want to come across as vulnerable. What does the average millennial do? They send only two memes to the said friend - a direct indication of dosti mein aayi daraar. The two memes become zero memes and the final nail in coffin comes when you start sending ten memes a day to another new-found friend. Your friendship with the said friend has officially ended. The end.
Memes can cheer us up but can the millennial generation substitute the days of 2 am phone calls with the camouflage of memes?