A strange phenomenon has been observed on the social media in the last week or so. If you have not guessed already, I am talking about the sudden unexplained appearance of images of or relating to the rainbow, often but not always in the shape of a flag. As one of Pakistan’s prime political analysts, I deemed it my professional duty to investigate this baffling occurrence. What is the meaning behind these images? Who is behind this campaign? Why have these images taken hold of the attention of such a large number of people in such a short amount of time? This scribe spoke to experts and consulted recent news publications to reach five likely theories of the origin and meaning of this phenomenon. They are being summarized below.

1) The arrival of monsoon:

One possible explanation for people’s sudden obsession with the rainbow is that it symbolizes people’s joy at the arrival of the much-awaited monsoon rains in Pakistan. The country’s southern parts were hit by a heat wave that killed thousands of people. The unprecedented weather phenomenon occurring in the month when most Muslims fast, coupled with electricity outages and the crumbling water supply system in Pakistan’s largest city, was the most devastating tragedy to have hit the country in recent years. It is but natural that people would anticipate the coming of rains, and would be delighted with joy at the respite from heat that they would bring. A rainbow is a perfect symbol of that delight.

2) Slavery and the civil war in America:

The flag consisting of colors of the rainbow spotted on the social media so frequently in the last few days may be the flag of the confederate states of southern America, that fought a civil war with the northern states over issues including slavery. After a recent racially motivated shooting in the southern US state of South Carolina that killed nine African American people included a state senator, there were calls for the state to remove the confederate flags from its buildings, because among the things it symbolizes for some is discrimination against the African American community. For many others, the war was not only about slavery, and the flag symbolizes the valor of the troops of the south. It may be possible that people are sharing the rainbow colored confederate flag in support of the latter point of view.

3) The Greek debt crisis:

Some experts are of the opinion that the flag that features the bright and beautiful colors of the rainbow is the flag of Greece – a European country who is in the middle of a debt crisis which has taken it to the brink of leaving the Eurozone. While some say the only way out of this crisis is for Greece to adopt strict austerity measures because people do not work as much as they should, don’t pay taxes, and depend on public sector jobs and government support, others say that real reason behind the impasse is that Germany is being stubborn in pursuing its own selfish national interests. If the rainbow flag in fact is the flag of Greece, one can safely assume that internet users are sharing the flag to express their support for the people of Greece.

4) A Skittles ad campaign:

Another possible explanation why the internet is thriving with the colors of the rainbow is that is is an ad campaign by Mars Inc for their popular product Skittles. It may likely be an extension of their “taste the rainbow” tagline – a theme thought up by D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in New York in the mid-1990s. This is the age of the internet, and companies need to learn new ways not just to reach out to the consumers, but engage with them in new and innovative ways. The campaign will help Skittles mend ties with their longtime fans that were hurt severely when they replaced Lime skittles with Green Apple ones in 2013.

5) It’s a virus:

Another possible explanation for this inexplicable fixation of social media users with the colors of the rainbow is that it is in fact not deliberate. It is possible that some kind of malware is using a piece of code to that travels from one computer to the next hacking people’s social media profiles and leaving a sort of a signature in the shape of the colors of the rainbow. It is recommended that you update your anti-virus software.