Memeing out 2017!

Social media is one thing that most of us can’t get enough of. I, for one, have found it to be the most genius (sometimes bizarre) invention of human mind. If Shakespeare were to live in this digital age, he would’ve come up with an entirely different plot for some of his most brilliant works. Macbeth would’ve gone after Dan Bilzerian for the title of ‘King of Instagram’. Satan of Milton’s 10-part Paradise Lost would’ve expressed his resentment at being ousted out through memes. What were to become of Pakistan had interactive platforms like Facebook or Twitter existed in the ‘60s or ‘70s. Ayub would’ve announced Martial Law via Facebook Live. Bhutto would’ve been an avid reader of e-books.

Endless possibilities aside, social media of 2017 was a rollercoaster. And we, the warriors of the keyboard, simply put, made the most out of that ride. New memes were introduced. Many lost ones found new fame, many were roasted. A tweet changed the entire political scenario. New scandals surfaced. Our nation celebrated Champions Trophy victory. Kohli was unable to chase. He later married Anushka. The two were even memed together in Pakistan. From a prime minister’s one liner over his disqualification to a former president’s dance, social media made something extraordinary out of the ordinary.

Before we move ahead, let’s take a look at which of our favourite interactive platform(s) dominated the stats (November 2016-November 2017). According to Stats Counter, 95.6 per cent of the social media users in Pakistan were using Facebook as of November 2017. Almost 99.2 per cent of social media users had scrolled through Facebook in November 2016. Youtube followed with 2.33 per cent (0.02 per cent in November 2016) and Twitter took in 0.96 per cent (0.35 per cent in November 2016) of the social media users. 

On the political front, the military’s tweet of ‘rejection’ over an inquiry into an alleged security meeting leak and the ouster of Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court made social media headlines in 2017. ISPR had termed the notification on Dawn Leaks as “incomplete”. The military’s media wing later took down the tweet. In wake of the controversy the tweet generated, the then prime minister sacked several government officials, including aides Tariq Fatemi and Pervaiz Rashid. Nawaz had too little of a time for comfort as in the summer of 2017 a five-member Supreme Court disqualified him in a landmark ruling on the Panama Papers case. His signature lamentation ‘Mujhe Kyun Nikala’ has since become the catchphrase of his political opponents, most notably Imran Khan.

While Nawaz had his share of miseries in the Punjab, two rival parties in Sindh had a fair taste of the ‘Muhajir reunion’. However, the alliance lasted much shorter than expected. Farooq Sattar of Muttahida Qaumi Movement- Pakistan even resigned at one point only to backtrack from his announcement after his mother came in to save the day (and his political career). Pakistan Zindabad!

But there were times when keyboard warriors went to war with each other. Sanity almost lost its group on humanity as users bashed each other. The by-elections in NA-120 had seen the emergence of new Islamist parties and by November 2017, a Tehreek paralysed most of the country. What was just a demand for the resignation of a federal minister over a ‘clerical error’ quickly turned into violent protests. At the end the state bowed down before their demands and the law minister, Zahid Hamid resigned.

Amidst the Faizabad saga, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) restricted access to social media and Pakistanis had to use virtual private networks (VPNs). Earlier in 2017, the Islamabad High Court had ordered crackdown in a bid to tackle ‘online blasphemous content’. According to the judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, “There will be proceedings against blasphemers and against those who remained silent spectators. This is the greatest form of terrorism and people involved in this heinous act were the biggest terrorists.” Five activists who were abducted in the crackdown and accused their captors of torture were cleared of charges on December 22.

It, however, won’t be fair to end this review on a sad or disturbing note. Everything the Internet provided wasn’t all bad. Social media users also rediscovered talents that had been lost to time. We started with ‘Dun Dun Dun’ and ended on ‘Tan Tan Tan’. They were the breakout stars who provided us with a fresh doze of entertainment through their bizarre yet hilarious acts without even realising what the Internet had in store for them. As the lights of 2017 roll out, here is to everyone a very happy and prosperous…… Aray Bhai Bhai Bhai…..New Year!!!!


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