Some of you might be surprised to find out that by sharing memes you could be committing what is known as “Mala Lingua.” This isn’t too surprising as I assume most people are scratching their heads wondering what on earth Mala Lingua is.

Mala Lingua is a Latin phrase deriving from an ancient Hebrew phrase known as “Lashon HaRah” (transliterated). “Lashon” meaning “tongue” referring to speech, and “HaRah” meaning “the evil.”

The same transfers well over to the Latin term I brought Mala Lingua. Mala means bad and Lingua means language or speech. In essence, they both mean the same thing, it is just that Latin is easier to write since English uses Latin letters and Hebrew needs transliteration.

But, I digress. My main point is that Mala Lingua is something that people do every single day, and most people don’t care. It is just excepted as the norm and people don’t really see it as something that is all that bad.

This isn’t how it should be though. That’s like how some people might say that online casinos like Fair Go casino bonus aren’t “real casinos.” That isn’t true at all though. Just because one person is used to something else, doesn’t mean you should discredit or ignore it.

Back to our topic at hand, Mala Lingua can be incredibly hurtful or damaging to other people. Forms of Mala Lingua such as gossip can ruin people’s lives, it can ruin their social connections, and it can cause a great deal of emotional or even financial damage to people.


Generally, Mala Lingua is a concept mostly found in Jewish culture. As I mentioned, the term even originally comes from Hebrew. So, I will use the traditionally accepted Jewish definition of Mala Lingua in order to help clarify exactly what we are talking about.

Mala Lingua is considered any form of communication with others about someone who isn’t with you that can cause them any form of embarrassment or damage to another person. There are a lot more details and specifics, however, for our purposes, this will be enough.

One very important thing to note is that this is any form of communication. It doesn’t matter whether it is speech or not, and it doesn’t matter if it is true or not. If you are spreading information about someone that hurts them, you are doing Mala Lingua.


I mentioned early how sending memes could be Mala Lingua early, and I want to explain this point. This might seem like a silly example, but I want to illustrate just how much our society has grown to not think about how we make others who aren’t with us feel.

Let’s say you have a silly picture of someone. They are someone you don’t know, or perhaps you do know them. It’s a candid picture or a screenshot or whatever. Then, you turn that into a meme. You add text and use their facial expression as the punchline.

Or, you have a funny clip of someone. You edit it and spread it around online. The instance I specifically have in mind is the meme of the “Starwars Kid” that went viral and promptly ruined the kid’s life.

These are forms of Mala Lingua. You are doing something that brings shame, embarrassment, emotion, and possibly financial damage to someone. That person might not have wanted their face all over the internet!

Memes have simply become so ingrained as a part of our society, we don’t think about them anymore. But, we are still making fun of people just like we used to. We just do it in a sort of roundabout way where we don’t have to think about it.

The Truth Hurts

The problem with common ideas of spreading rumors and gossip is that people usually associate them with lies. “Oh I heard So and so did this thing!” and on and on. The problem people tend to see with it is the lies.

However, the truth can be just as damaging as lies. Let’s say someone did something bad a while ago. Since then, they have made up for it. If they stole maybe they paid back. Or maybe they were convicted for something else and went to jail.

Now, they have served their time, paid their dues, or whatever else. They come back to the world and start living a normal life. For our purposes let’s say they become a janitor at a school.

This person has been working there for years. They have never done anything wrong after they started working, and they do their job well. Yet, someone finds out their record and spreads it around to some of the parents.

The parents start complaining, one thing leads to another, and the person gets fired. Let me as you something. Did anyone lie? No. Was someone hurt? Yes. Was there any real reason for that person to be hurt? I would say no.

This is an extreme example of how telling people the truth about someone can still hurt that person. This is another example of Mala Lingua, and it is important to keep in mind. You are still a bad person if you hurt people by telling the truth about them when it is unnecessary.

Financial Damage

I think you get the idea of what kinds of emotional damage can be done by Mala Lingua. However, the second half of the coin is that it is also communication that can cause someone financial damage.

One example is that of the Janitor we mentioned above. The person spread information about him that ultimately cost him his job when there really shouldn’t have been any problem for him to keep working.

However, there is another example that has no embarrassment or emotional damage in it whatsoever. Again, classically people don’t think about these types of things as all being related. Gossip and rumor spreading are bad, but there are other damages you can cause.

The example I will give is a man who wants to open a pizza store. Let’s say you live in a little town. There aren’t many stores there, and a man, who we will call Jack, wants to open a pizza store!

He figures everyone loves pizza, so people would love to have a pizzeria in town where they can enjoy a slice of delicious pizza after school, after work, or perhaps on a lazy weekend afternoon where you just want to spend time with your friends and not worry about cooking.

Jack is so excited about his idea he tells it to Kyle his neighbor. Kyle is friends with the local burger restaurant owner, and at some point tells him about how Jack wants to open a pizza store in town.

The burger restaurant owner begins to worry. He’s now going to have a competition! There aren’t many restaurants in town after all, and people do really like pizza!

So, he decides to use his restaurant knowledge and opens his own pizzeria that month. Jack is devastated. The pizza restaurant will take away his sales, it has a head start, and the owner knows more about business than Jack does.

So, it ends up that Jack’s pizza restaurant doesn’t do as well as it could have. He lost sales, and he has to compete very early own with the burger restaurant owner’s pizza store.

This is an example of how you can financially hurt someone with Mala Lingua. Kyle caused Jack no embarrassment, however, he caused him a great financial loss, and this is also considered a bad thing. That was Jack’s livelihood!


I hope I have illustrated some ways in which it is important to not hurt the people around us. Our hyperconnected yet hyper-anonymous society has made it so people are more and more willing to do things that could hurt other people.

Therefore, we have an even greater responsibility to think about how we relate to other people. How do you talk about other people? Could that joke you are making embarrass or hurt someone? Are you being disrespectful of those who work hard to care for you?

Ultimately, there is most likely going to be nobody telling you how to act and speak (for the most part) so the only one who can decide how you will relate to and about others is yourself. How do you want people to remember you?

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