Does the notion of viral ideas excite you? Have you been infected by one? Do you propagate memes? Have you ever danced the macarena or forwarded a ticklish penguin video to a friend?
If you find memes fascinating, take a look at this article in the online Smithsonian magazine: “What Defines a Meme?”
This little snippet might intrigue you:
For most of our biological history memes existed fleetingly; their main mode of transmission was the one called “word of mouth.” Lately, however, they have managed to adhere in solid substance: clay tablets, cave walls, paper sheets. They achieve longevity through our pens and printing presses, magnetic tapes and optical disks. They spread via broadcast towers and digital networks. Memes may be stories, recipes, skills, legends or fashions. We copy them, one person at a time. Alternatively, in Dawkins’ meme-centered perspective, they copy themselves. [. . .]
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor….Rhyme and rhythm help people remember bits of text. Or: rhyme and rhythm help bits of text get remembered. Rhyme and rhythm are qualities that aid a meme’s survival, just as strength and speed aid an animal’s. Patterned language has an evolutionary advantage. Rhyme, rhythm and reason—for reason, too, is a form of pattern. I was promised on a time to have reason for my rhyme; from that time unto this season, I received nor rhyme nor reason.
And of course, by blogging about the meme, I’m participating in one, catching it, passing it on, the meme of memes.
I’m placing this in the “Myth & Legend” category, since myths and legends are some of the most steadfast and long-lived memes.