Off topic: Steam is having a MASSIVE SALE.
REMINDER: The contest is still on until Monday. Get those submissions in!
We have a very exciting, informative post today. I’m going to tell you what a “meme” is. You may say “Oh Cat, we already know what a meme is. The internet told us so, you stupid man!”, to which I would respond with a quick slap across your face.
Let’s get that out of the way. “Meme” is a word that has slipped into the lexicon of the internet community, much like “fail” and “win” did (to a much greater degree). A “meme” is any kind of video, joke, phrase, picture, etc. that is repeatedly shown over and over for great enjoyment. Think of the Numa Numa guy or the “Can I haz cheezeburger” Cat (a joke that went waaaay too far).
Now let’s talk about what a “meme” really is. Richard Dawkins wrote a book called The Selfish Gene in 1976, back when he was doing actual science instead of burning down churches (Figuratively… I think). The idea of the “selfish gene” is that a particular gene will do whatever it can to replicate itself as much as possible, regardless of the consequences for the creature it is in or the ecosystem as a whole. A virus is a good parallel for this, it replicates endlessly without regard to what it harms.
Dawkins was trying to find a way to describe the transfer of information from parent to child as well. In his efforts, he coined the term “meme”.
You might notice that “meme” and “gene” are spelled similarly. If you do, give yourself a cookie because that’s the reason for the term. A meme acts as a gene, but replacing the genetic code with social ideas such as mores or techniques. Just like passing the gene for blonde hair down to his son, a father would also pass down a meme about religion, social heirarchy, techniques for farming, whatever. This idea uses evolutionary theory to explain the spread of certain kinds of ideas, including religion and the like.
The observant among you may notice that the actual definition of a meme and the internet’s version are quite different. Hint: It’s because they are. I’m not entirely sure where this misstep came in, but I can guess. I think that someone must have misread the book and thought that memes are passed to the people around you, not your offspring. That’s the only logical explanation.
And besides, we already have a term for internet fads. It’s called going “viral”!