By Ila Ananya
In the last week, I’ve seen at least a dozen “Tag a friend who should…” photos on Facebook. Some of them are random, like “Tag a friend who should open Facebook to see this video of a cartoon rabbit pole dancing.” Okay, haha, that’s a bit funny I guess.
But then there’s this other type.
It’s a photo of a person (the ones I’ve seen are usually women), dark skinned, teeth sticking out slightly, apparently “ugly”. Guy’s photographs follow a similar pattern — dark skinned (see how we can’t really ever let this go?), occasionally grimy clothes, bad teeth, and again anyone apparently “ugly”.
Then the caption asks everyone to “Tag a friend who should date this”. Date this, mind you, not even “Date this person” or something that acknowledges that the person in the photograph is…a person. And this isn’t the only problem. A friend of mine says she’s seen these ‘jokes’ where the people in the photographs are sometimes beggars, or homeless men and women, with the same caption.
What does it mean that we’re being asked to tag friends who should date “this”? Of course the joke is supposed to be that we’d never date ‘this’, so it’s haha funny. If you’re tagged in it you’re supposed to feel all cringe cringe, this is so embarrassing.
It’s basically casteist, classist, and often gendered jokes — I don’t see it being done for men and women with fair skin and perfect hair and perfect teeth, light eyes. And even if it is done for them, it isn’t done in this same “haha, look, why would we date this person way,” it’s done in an irritating, gushing, “We’d be so lucky to be with this beautiful, perfect person”.
Do you remember how the Arshad Khan mania was more of a class than gender problem? Where someone thought they had the right to take a photo of someone they found good looking, surprised that he was a chai wala (everyone kept calling him that), and, as Girls at Dhabas points out, turned up at his chai stall the next morning without caring that he was at work, something they’d never have done if he was an upper class man? This rubbish tag a friend business is similar, and I’m wondering when people will just cut this crap.