#MUGABEFALLS: MEMES & SOCIAL [MEDIA] DREAMING

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“Had to do another lol #Mugabefalls” – Sane Sato (‏@SaneInTransit)

As the #MugabeFalls meme continues to break the internet and our collective ribs with a slew of hilarious images like the one featured above, it may be worthwhile to consider the (subtle?) socio-political role the meme is playing in ongoing cultural conversations online.

Specifically, the #MugabeFalls meme is an attempt by digital natives and global citizens—who would otherwise have largely very little power to effect change—to speak out against Mugabe’s controversial leadership, thus serving as a contemporary portrayal of satire and social commentary on Africa—which has traditionally taken shape in indigenous literature.

To paraphrase—and recontextualize—the words of designers Dunne and Raby in the first chapter of Speculative Thinking, we need to dream new dreams for the twenty-first century as those of the twentieth century rapidly fade. But what role can design social media play?

Perhaps #MugabeFalls is one answer, and yet another example of how visual media can be used to enact power relations, circulate information and ideas, and make meaning.

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