What’s in a meme?

You know, working on the meme interview sent to me by
has really gotten me thinking a lot about pop-culture. This is actually something that I normally don’t spend a great deal of mental energy on. But, as I typed away, occasionally looking up whatever passed through my brain, I realized what a great process the interview can be.

Along with sharing a bit about myself with all of you; I was learning more about what makes me happy, angry, nostalgic and secure. Pretty cool, I thought. So I got curious about just who thought it would be such a great idea to allow, we, the little folk, to feel like stars for a moment. To live in the interview.

Lo and behold. I, the research junkie did not find what I was looking for. But, I did find a nifty little article on the gorilla news network about memes. It was long, and some parts even boring. So, I’m going to take a little liberty here, and quote a bit (totally out of context) for you.

Meme (pronounced to rhyme with dream), was first coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. If genes are replicators of the body, then memes are replicators of the mind. “Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches” (Dawkins, 1976, p. 192). In short, a meme is a piece of information that exists as long as it is remembered and replicated. Dawkins then expands his theory by explaining how memes grow: “memes should be regarded as living structures, not just metaphorically but technically.

Ooooh. I like that. Especially the comparison of memes to genes, and the perception of them as a living piece of information that only exists as long as it is remembered. “Shazbot” comes to mind as does “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate”.

The article continues with:

When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme’s propagation” (Dawkins, 1976, p. 192). Memes thus can be regarded as mind virus’s transferring from person to person via any method of possible transmission.

I propose; however, that these are not parasitic viruses, but rather symbiotic in their relationship. And they provide such a feel good little service, too. It is a way for us to all have our 15 minutes of fame without ever having to actually be famous (i.e.: vulnerable). To be able to say, “Hey, that’s me…I came up with that.” Think of the gal from Mean Girls who kept trying to make “fetch” ‘happen’.

The advent of the internet with it’s webrings, yahoo groups and prolific blogs, along with a general trend toward the inexpensive to produce and highly sensational reality T.V. have made all of us into anonymous exhibitionists. Yup, it is indeed an interesting time to be alive. We have abilities for communication previously never dreamed of. I just hope we can all step out of our personal dramas long enough to see popular culture for the great opportunity it truly can be.


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