Shows about teen suicide like Netflix's 13 Reasons Why are difficult to talk about because of the emotional intensity spurred by their characters, plot lines, and overall depressing subject. But the popularity of the series is important — so incredibly important. It shows that topics like bullying, self-harm, and counseling are not taboo. The Hannah Bakers of the world (young women and men who have been victims of ruthless — and often perceived as harmless — ridicule throughout high school) may be seen as overly sensitive, or dramatic, by some viewers. But the character of Hannah, played by the fresh-faced and wildly impressive Katherine Langford, highlights the complexities of navigating one of the most tumultuous places on earth: the halls of a high school.
A series like this is sure to cause ripples, from its bloody and graphic portrayal of a teenager's suicide to its multiple rape scenes, but for a good reason. It starts conversations and spreads awareness about mental health and what it truly means to be an honest, kind person and friend. One thing that the show isn't meant to start is a campaign of tasteless memes to degrade and diminish the importance of this story and its themes — but of course, it happens anyway. Across Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, viewers of the series are posting memes inspired by Hannah Baker and her tapes. I can appreciate a good meme as much as the next millennial, but these miss the point of 13 Reasons Why, and it's a real shame.
So, what is being memed? Mostly they're mocking her character's tendency to get upset over what seems like nothing to some people. Each meme makes light of the experience of being depressed, isolated, and hopeless. Yes, it seems foolish, without context, for Hannah to place blame on a boy who stole doodles of bunnies out of her compliment bag. But we're all adults here and know that it meant a lot more than that to the 17-year-old in the show.
The most popular meme is to use the phrase "Welcome to your tape," which Hannah's voice-over repeats on each episode, marking the exact moment she felt betrayed by or disconnected from the subject of the tape.
They've also turned Hannah into Salt Bae.
As well as repurposed the Meryl Streep shouting meme.
The Internet has also even dragged Ivanka Trump's smug neighbor into the mix.
Not everything in life needs to be memed, guys. Don't make me explain to you the 13 reasons why that's so.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.