MEME

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?