Friday, April 04, 2008

A meme is a meme is a meme, or is it?

I believe that I can only truly call myself a blogger once I receive a critical comment (as opposed to any comment at all). So I have the lovely[1] Locke to thank for leading me to the edge and here I go jumping in with both feet, if you'll excuse the mixed metaphors.

So without further ado, please refer the criticism below:

'I feel the need to disseminate this horrible abuse of the word meme, and what I posted at Hallqs page sufficiently gets across my point, so I'll paste:
Sorry, but you are entirely misdirected about what a 'meme' is. A survey or chain letter or pass-me-on or whatever this is has no relation to the word. In order to not look silly or foolish, you should research terms before using them. You can't make something a meme just by declaring it so, and if this was one, it would be instantly recognized and occur regularly in the social consciousness in various forms. All your base are belong to us and LOLcats are memes, 'list 7 weird things about yourself' is a survey at best, and a piece of unsolicited spam chainmail at worst. Also, a meme can't be 'invented,' a meme just happens. In addition, as this is about the 20th blog I've posted this comment to, it really makes me sad to know that people are such blindly-following, unthinking automatons that they readily repeat things as fact without so much as an inkling of skepticism. '

I would imagine that the fact that this particular 'meme' has traversed the blogosphere thus resulting in the need to comment on more than 20 blogs kind of confirms that it is actually conforming to the requirement of a meme and disproving the belief that a meme cannot be invented.

Also, I'll forgive the darling girl for being a pedant, god knows the world only turns through the sheer will of a few but I'm a little surprised that someone who clearly has their finger firmly pressed on the pulse of technology (I mean her blog name is 'Lockedotnet' and it is both interesting AND informative) hasn't yet heard of the Urban Dictionary[2].

I'm not sure how I came to be aware of such a modern concept, but I suspect that there are one or two of you who haven't yet experienced the joy that is I feel it only fair that I provide their definition of a meme:

'1. meme
837 up, 67 down

1 : an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance (as by parents to children) or horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media)

2 : a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable

3 : the fundamental unit of information, analogous to the gene in emerging evolutionary theory of culture
- meme pool (n.) : all memes of a culture or individual
- memetic (adj.) : relating to memes
- memetics (n.) : the study of memes

4 : in blogspeak, an idea that is spread from blog to blog

5 : an internet information generator, especially of random or contentless information

(Etymology : meme : derived from the Greek mimëma, 'something imitated', by Richard Dawkins in 1976)'

Additionally I feel it only fair to say that English (and indeed any language) is all about evolution and a blog is about artistic license so really it doesn't matter who's definition you follow (if any!) but rather that you do so with conviction, that way you can dedicate a whole 15 minutes cultivating a reply to a person who disagrees.


[1] I have made an assumption that Locke is indeed lovely because that is the way I picture all bloggers, as lovely - kind of my own little Utopia.
[2] This is by no means the only online source which includes the meme idea as it is perpetrated in the blogosphere, see American Heritage Dictionary and for further confirmation.


Locke said...

I admire your actual consideration of criticism and, while the points you highlighted do indeed apply to this particular item, I would have to disagree with its qualification, not by pure definition, but by the nature of the device. A meme is, indeed, something which passes from blog to blog, but while that is a necessary requirement, it is not both sufficient and necessary. By your quote of "2 : a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable," this particular potential meme is severely lacking. A request or command contained within an item itself that demands it be spread, does in and of itself directly negate the item from possibility of becoming a meme. In order to be a parasitic bit of cultural data that spreads in such a virus-like fashion, something has to, just by being viewed, cause people to replicate it for their own reasons, or even for the sake of group unity, but by including an attempt to force such spread, it fails (EPIC FAIL perhaps??) Other than that, thanks for stopping by and I might be by here sometimes in the future, feel free to do the same.

PS- I'm a guy, but no hard feelings, this is the internet after all!

Locke said...

In fact, I think use of the word 'meme' now qualifies as a meme by at least 2 of those definitions, but again, its not what is necessary, but what is sufficient that counts. I'll probably post about this whole topic on my blog later this afternoon.

Carrie said...

He must be a uni student. Those are the only people I know who earnestly care about something so silly and would take the time to point it out to people who don't give a shit. (I mean, assuming you don't give a shit. I sure don't. It makes me laugh.)