This is about memes. Not the blog meme as we are all used to getting. But to fill this discussion out lets first define a blog meme:
Chris Garrett: Blog Memes have become synonymous with internet quizzes, surveys, and novelties that people link to and pass around on their blogs, forums and via email, things like the “which superhero are you most like” test.
At its most basic, an Internet meme is simply the propagation of a digital file or hyperlink from one person to others using methods available through the Internet (for example, email, blogs, social networking sites, instant messaging, etc.). The content often consists of a saying or joke, a rumor, an altered or original image, a complete website, a video clip or animation, or an offbeat news story, among many other possibilities.
You of course have heard the idea of "going viral"?
Richard Dawkins launched this idea in his The Selfish Gene. He describes a meme as a mind virus, a unit of cultural imitation. Only the fittest memes survive. The weak die much like viruses.
The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author ( I cannot help but wonder if he memed his meme idea. But that kind of hurts ;-)
Knowledge of the theory of memetics is vital in understanding contemporary discussions on the effect of word of mouth advertising, or where viral videos get their cultural traction. However, memetics applies to many other areas, such as the transmission of information across language barriers, the effects of psychological operations in geo-politcial struggles, archetypal resonance in cultures, and the growth of internet piracy. The Art of Memetics by Wes Unruh Edward Wilson
It is where I fear Politics and other very high stakes movements are heading online.(are we already there?) What is to stop a candidate from spreading messages covertly and overtly online. I have a pretty good idea of how I would do it.
Regardless of your political persuasion you have to admit the strong use of languaging from both sides (is there just two?). Contract With America, Drive By Media, Soccer Moms are used by the Right leaning politicos to get their idea across quickly and emotionally. Left leaning zealots (did I just do something?) have used words like a Woman's Right to Choose, dubed the NRA "Gun Toting", "Tax the Rich", The Environment, Religious Whackos. All words meant to invoke emotion and embed meaning.
More From The Art of Memetics:
We are all part of social networks that are communicating, interacting. And this allows us to start applying cybernetic principles to psychological and social issues. Memes are not about “communication” or transfer of data. Memes are programming instructions. They are tied to actions. Memes are just the packet on this network. And the packets are usually programs which get installed on the system that accepts them. That system is you and I. Because we are components in a very large system and made up of smaller systems and components the percentage of control we are generally capable of at least at first is really small because we are constrained both by our constituting components and the system of interactions within which we are embedded.
This is how ideas can spread so fast these days, especially on the internet. I have noticed that words I have made up out of thin air to describe my marketing concepts are being copied by other bloggers. Or did I somehow psychically copy them?
Are we someday going to have to protect ourselves from Meme warfare? We already should be. From a master memeticist who engineered the explosive growth of the yoyo in the 90's from $8 million a year to $250 Million.
Yours Truely with Ben Mack at the Renegades
of Persuasion Conference last month.
Ben Mack as he interviews Ely Asher Author of:
Disinfect Your Mind
While authorities in psychology discuss whether memetics is a science, its use by politicians, marketing departments and mass media becomes more and more ubiquitous.
Consider a computer. You can only use a word processor to edit a text. You can only use a merchant's website to order merchandise. But you can use programming languages like C++ or C# to make a computer do virtually anything you want. Similarly, psychology is not enough anymore for politicians, mass media, and large businesses. Preinstalled programs in human minds, such as widely accepted social norms, habits, and prejudices, are not enough for them to exploit anymore. They want to make you do virtually anything they want you to do.
Do you want to defend yourself?
Mind viruses are not biological viruses like influenza, but pieces of information or ideas that, once they get into our minds, are capable of causing us to replicate them to other people's minds. They are very much like computer viruses, but instead of spreading from one computer to another, they spread from one human mind to another. They are also similar to the usual biological viruses (flu, cold, hepatitis, AIDS) in the sense that they use us to replicate themselves. And just like biological and computer viruses, they usually hurt the host in the process. This host is you.
Mind viruses force your mind to replicate them, because that is the only purpose of their existence. If it hurts you, the virus does not care, as long as you continue to replicate it.
As such, they compete with each other for the place in human minds, like yours. This competition results in a sort of evolution where only those mind viruses survive that are most efficient in grabbing your attention and forcing you to spread them. In doing so, they have no concern for your well-being. They don't have a reason to be relevant to your life and wellness. In fact, one of their main goals is to impair your judgment, because otherwise, why would you spread them?
And once they take over, they are forcing you to spread them. This means that you spend cycles in your life spreading the virus instead of working on improving your own life or just merely enjoying your own life. In fact, enjoying your life is something that mind viruses attack first, because the promise of enjoying your life in the future is one of the most efficient ways to force you into replicating them.
As you can guess, the future reward never comes.
- Impair your judgment
- Make you act against your own interests
- Prevent your success in life
- Prevent you from enjoying your life
I would add they can also make you a ton of money. Just be ethical about it.
I sometimes think of a meme as another possible way of determining why we do what we do. But I think it a more accurate way of describing the dynamic. It isn't anything new. Its just a label created by Dawson. However, understanding this model of thinking can propel your sales much faster than traditional marketing schools of thought.
As I was closing this out (this is my second attempt at this story as my first one was erased as I pushed the wrong button. Hate when that happens), my wife yelled from the other room to check out this story that starts off..
A Nectarine:They now affix a sticker on the delicate skin of ripe nectarines that says “nectarine”. A nectarine is a commodity...The sticker on a nectarine tells us not only that it's a nectarine but also where it came from...Consumerism consumes meanings while leaving us wondering what idiot would put a sticker on a piece of fruit telling us it's fruit...An apple is not an apple but an indoor billboard, branded with the name of its producer. The notion of “appleness” (think crisp, sweet crunchy or cider, sex and temptation) is over wrought by the fact that it's a commodity. It's a highly polished brand sitting on crepe paper under green lights. As if the neon was signifying a return to Eden.
The author goes on to claim there is no difference from one apple brand to the next, from one mortgage broker to the next. Then why bother? Without a fight for differentiation what is the point? Without the Jolly Green Giant we just have wimpy green beans.
Memes help you prove yourself better than any ole real estate agent. Because like it or not you are a commodity unless you find a way to differentiate. Everyone needs to because the world is shrinking and the consumers mind is increasingly set on default mode. And default mode is where everything is vanilla. You ain't no different from the next shmoe and Redfin starts to make a whole lotta sense.
Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme
This is written by Richard Brodie who by the way invented Microsoft Word. He is now a professional gambler.