I have been thinking about this new word, meme, which has lately entered into the lexicon. For some reason, I don’t know quite know why, it seems to annoy me. To further inquire into this cognitive dissonance, which I feel whenever I see the word in print, I decided to do a little research. It turns out a meme is a newly coined word, coined by British scientist Richard Dawkins, that identifies ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from person or group to another. A meme functions as a unit that carries cultural ideas from mind to mind through writing, speech, gestures or rituals. Some believe memes are analogous to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. Some question whether culture can be captured or reduced to discrete units such as memes. I would fall into this category and hence my sense of dis-ease whenever I hear the word. Another reason I dislike the word, I think, is that I don’t like the concept of herd mentality, groupthink, mob rule, or even, heaven help me, team player. However, a term to help us understand these phenomena can be useful, I suppose. It’s just that we have so many other words, perfectly good words. Do we really need to invent new ones?

5 thoughts on “MEME

  1. As the electronic devices we communicate on grow smaller and smaller, so has the language used on them. Look at texting, it has its own language. From what I see, language is alive, and if you confine it, it will stagnate. Now on to meme… I don’t really like the word or what it represents either. It’s a thoughtbyte (which may or may not be a “real” word), which to me is about as useful as one synapse. It is a herd mentality. If they ever get to the point where they can get a visual on what happens as memes travel, you’ll probably see it looking a lot like a thought/electrical impulse traveling along and between synapses. What is troubling is when young people mistake it for actual critical thinking.

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  2. Dawkins derived the word “Meme” from “Mimesis”, Greek for “imitation”. This aspect of copying can also found in Internet memes. But with regard to the resulting complexity, the comparison doesn’t fits well.

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