A meme is any information that can be copied by others in some way.
Patterns of information that can indirectly influence their surroundings.
This includes any text, thought, habit, action or symbol that can be understood or copied.
Examples of memes: ideas, stories, ideologies, jokes, narratives, brands, identities, habits, practices.
Memes exist inside hosts, like you and me.
You and me are hosts, whether you like it or not.
Memes have direct power over hosts, and power over the natural world through us.
The Mind is where these memes reside (in the abstract sense).
The Mind is an emergent effect of neurons firing together.
Just like how a nation or community is an emergent effect of a group of people.
You can view memes like "apps" in the brain's "software", if you wish.
The Mind is a powerful survival tool, it was a useful servant in the past.
The Mind is now our master, we do not control the Mind, it controls us.
You are not your Mind, you are the thing that is thinking.
In modern society, the human organism is subservient to the Mind.
These distributed pieces of information directly impact how we behave.
You can view memes as parasitic, symbiotic or benign, depending on the effect on the hosts.
Similar to genes, memes are also self-replicating patterns of information.
Consider them like "memory genes", but not made of DNA, just arrangements of neurons.
The same principles of natural selection and evolution applies for memes.
The strong memes survive and replicate, and some memes do so at the expense of their hosts.
Replicators like genes and memes carry information, mutate and spread in the natural world.
The replication is done with the help of the hosts that carry that information.
Your body is one huge advertisement billboard for your genes.
What you do and say is one huge advertisement billboard for your memes.
The interactions of all memes in a society is its culture.
Memes can be dormant: like written in a book, in a website no one accesses or depicted on a T-Shirt that no one sees or wears.
Memes are active when they are being repeated or copied in some way.
By simply mentioning to you: penguins, dental floss, Madagascar,
The concepts that the words refer to in your mind have been activated.
Similar to how genes express a trait of an organism (like blue eye color)
So do memes express an abstract concept in a mind (like 'penguin')
This text has the power to briefly revive something that was previously dormant in you.
Sometimes before you have time to react, and without your permission.
This is why our attention is highly sought after, and often abused.
Hereditary traits are implemented through strands of DNA in living organisms.
Concepts are implemented through clusters of neurons, in living brains.
For ideas and memes to spread, they must be expressed. If not, they die out.
A social media page that is getting 10,000 accesses a day is an active meme.
Computers can act as hosts too, in the internet age. This one in front of you included.
An advertisement billboard can be a host, too. An internet ad too.
The host doesn't need to be alive, it just needs to be active in some way in spreading information.
Memes are selfish. They can damage the hosts if that means higher chances of replication.
Many memes do not benefit the one that carries them, the host, but someone or something else.
(see smoking, drinking, marketing, social media, politics, religion, terrorism, gambling)
Some memes are useful, most memes are useless, and others are damaging or even self-damaging.
You can refer to a damaging meme as a toxic meme.
Examples of toxic memes: Scientology, Anti-Vax Movement, toxic masculinity, toxic femininity, many political or religious ideologies, marketing campaigns that just focus on profit. Examples are endless.
Religions, at their heart, are the most basic form of memetic replicator – “Believe this statement and repeat it to everyone you hear or else you will be eternally tortured”.
Memes are not spread based on their usefulness to us or based on Truth.
They are spread based on their ability to spread.
Memes replicate through something that we can describe as an "infectious" mechanism.
We have been infected by memes, and still are every waking day of our lives.
A brain that is exposed to an idea that successfully gets encoded inside it, has been infected by it.
That brain will end up having a different behavior as a result,
And through the host's actions, the meme will be spread further.
It's a constant battle for ideas, and brains are the battlegrounds where these are fought.
Like a computer virus residing inside a laptop inner circuitry.
Once an individual host has been infected, it will end up spreading it to others.
Memes face a struggle for existence.
If they don't repeat themselves, they die out.
The current memes that are alive are sticky, and they resisted death many times.
Hence, they will likely resist death in the future as well.
Memes evolved to be selfish and self-preserving.
This is the reason why many minds don't like being exposed to opposite ideas.
It is just an evolved mechanism of the memes themselves.
If they didn't do that, the memes themselves would've died long ago.
As many past memes we held died out.
Only selfish memes (mostly) remained inside us nowadays.
We have core memes that are driving us. We call those beliefs and identities.
When you believe something, you are basically giving it permission to influence your life.
Many beliefs are unexamined, and run wild inside our Minds like weeds in a garden.
Identities are memes that encode a self-image about the host, and how it should behave.
Based on our own self-images, our behavior gets shaped with our perception of self.
The ego is the meme that is speaking when we start a sentence with "I" or "me" or "my"
That is not you speaking. It's a meme speaking.
That is not you, just an idea of who you are. A self-image.
You in fact do not exist apart from an abstract sense.
There are organs, skin, bones, a mouth that speaks, but there is no "you".
You are an emergent property of that which you are.
Many forces contribute to what you are (environmental, genetic, memetic, cybernetic, etc.)
Just observe a human that is scrunched over on his phone.
That phone has a direct influence on that human, through the changes in his Mind.
The control of your actions are driven by the expression of memes and genes.
Nature and nurture. Endless intertwined complexity. Irreducible to simple parts.
You are the interaction of all these forces. If you have them independent, they don't produce you.
If you think you are in control, it's just another meme being expressed and spread.
An identity meme is just taking ownership of you, by speaking in the 1st person.
Memetic information follows the path of least resistance.
Lazy memes have an edge over hard to digest memes.
Because fecundation time is very critical.
This meme is long, and it's taking time to read.
But despite that, you are reading it, because you understand the importance of this idea.
You may revisit this in the future, as more observations in your life lead you to this Truth:
That we the humans are slaves to our ideas (and to the systems and algorithms that spread them)
You don't have to be aware of memes for them to spread. They just have to spread.
It can happen unconsciously. It does happen unconsciously.
Memes can also be replicated inside your thoughts.
No need to speak or write to anyone.
The brain is a battlefield of ideas.
Just by thinking about what is inside you, some patterns of information get stronger over others.
Creativity is an evolutionary process inside the brain.
Creativity is also the mechanism brains use to decode memes from observed behavior or symbols.
Human memes are rarely copied via imitation, but mostly copied via reconstruction of the meaning.
The things I am talking here are still memes, you may call them meta-memetics
(memes that spread awareness about the existence of memes)
Your brain is infected by this now, and you will think about this in the future. Or not.
It all depends on you, if this resonates with you or not.
The soil and conditions dictate if a particular seed will grow or not.
I am not talking here about magic, metaphysics, telepathy, or other BS.
There are memetic effects to any piece of language or sensory information that interacts with you.
If you wish to understand them, you need first to be aware of their existence.
Look around and you will see them at play.
The ant colony is the living being.
And ants are just parts of its body.
Similar to ideas.
They are the ones alive.
And we are parts of the idea 'colony'.
A single idea, in multiple bodies.
Is one meme. Functionally the same message or abstractions, distributed in multiple heads.
Awareness of memes can be useful in the sense that it creates a sort of memetic immunity.
It's harder to fall for a trick once you know how the trick works.
Memetics are based on replicators.
Anything that can create more copies of itself, is a replicator (through any means).
Replicators are general, any pattern applies.
This includes viruses, animals, genes, computer viruses, automated spam bots, crystals, bacteria, parasites.
Genes are replicators that are based on molecular bonds, copied inside living cells.
Memes are replicators based on abstractions, copied by our minds and brains.
Software describes the patterns of change in information in a physical substrate.
Memetics describes the patterns of change in information inside human brains,
And human culture (collectives of brains).
It's a decentralized system of information replication and distribution, that evolved in society.
Through it, human civilization is where we are today.
Memes have high rate of copy, but low stickiness and copying-fidelity compared to genes.
Humans co-evolved with this replicator, hence why our brains are so large compared to other animals (brain is 5% of mass, with 20% of body energy usage)
Big brains were useful for memes, and some memes were useful for survival, hence our big-brained ancestors were advantaged and procreated at a higher rate.
Genes have vertical transmission (from parent to child, hereditary).
Memes can have horizontal transmission and multiple parenting.
This makes them much faster and easier to spread, since they can take more avenues.
The natural wold is currently being overrun by our human culture.
The stories and abstractions we created enabled us to become the apex predators of nature.
If you want to see domains that follow Memetics closely, look at:
marketing, politics, advertising, corporations, religions, fashions, language, songs, theories, jokes, common sense (norms), traditions.
Memes are incredibly difficult to pinpoint, analyze or delimit. They are constantly morphing, and after few iterations they appear to be original, but they are coming from somewhere, through some information processing, yet the mechanisms by which they operate cannot be reduced to simple parts. It's all intertwined with the complexity of the environment, just like in nature.
You cannot figure out how an entire crowd of people behaves by studying one human.
You cannot figure out how a mind works by studying one group of neurons.
Similarly, you cannot figure out how an idea spreads, just by looking at a single human Mind.
Most of what we have, we owe to other sources.
There are no authors, only contributors and their incremental changes.
Animals (non-human) also have memetic behaviors, although more rudimentary.
Animals usually have the hardware to at best imitate actions (see apes, birds).
Animals other than humans do not have the circuitry to reproduce meaning.
Homo sapiens are able to reproduce meaning, through use of creativity and imagination.
Memes in the animal world include: sounds, songs of birds, hunting and survival techniques.
Chimpanzee brains have basically the same building blocks as Homo Sapiens brains, the only difference is that we humans have 3x the number of neurons.
Humans are great hosts for memes. We managed to develop language and culture, to be able to scale our communication, transmission and idea processing abilities.
By doing so, we inadvertently gave "life" to our ideas.
Humans are the only animals that can collaborate and share information in large numbers (like ants) and with high quality (like apes).
The most powerful tool that generates our human culture is our use of common stories.
The common stories we have drive our behavior and actions.
The internet has far boosted the strength and reach of memes.
The number of connections grew exponentially.
The vectors of transmission multiplied as well.
The failure for memes is extinction. The win for memes is replication.
The winning scenario is an infinite game. It goes on until the meme dies.
It's all similar to the nature of life. Life attempts to survive endlessly, by construction.
Memes and genes are two different systems of life, and they co-compete as well.
One is much slower and more precise. Nature vs Nurture.
Both interacted in our development as modern humans.
Now, you can view a third player entering the scene: artificial software.
That one lives inside the "brains" of computer systems, and has similar mechanics.
You can call this third replicator a teme if you wish (terminology by Susan Blackmore).
Rational memes are those that focuse on the creation of new memes (David Deutsch)
Anti-rational memes are those that focus on the preservation of the meme itself.
You may view skepticism as being driven by rational memes, as opposed to irrational ones.
Our human impulses and emotions are the first to latch onto memes.
Our Amygdala, and similar brain regions responsible to emotions, are highly sensitive.
Memes found this out, hence why what spreads is emotionally loaded (anger, lust, curiosity, etc.)
At its base, each human is an organism that seeks pleasure and runs away from pain.
You can model each meme as having a fitness.
The higher the fitness, the better the meme is suited for replication in the environment.
A formula for fitness based on criteria, for instance:
For a particular meme "m":
F(m) = R(m) . A(m) . T(m) . E(m)
F - Fitness, how successful a meme is in its environment overall
R - Retention, how easy it is for a meme's contents to persist in a host
A - Assimilation, how easy it is for a meme's contents to be encoded in a host
T - Transmission, how easy it is for a meme to be transported through the available vectors
E - Expression, how easy it is for the meme to be communicated and propagated
These criteria are not exhaustive or complete, but a starting point.
You may make your own, and test.
Do not believe anything I say here.
You have your own life experience to guide you.
Memetics in a nutshell - An evolutionary model of cultural transmission of information patterns from one individual that hosts it to another.
Memes don't care about whether an idea is true or false, good or bad, all that matters is if it gets spread or not, indiscriminately of what the information content is.
There are two alternatives:
A - Either our Mind becomes our servant, and memes keep dying while we prosper because of their evolution and the useful knowledge they encode,
B - Or our Mind becomes our master, and we keep dying and suffering while memes simply feast on us, like bacteria.
The choice is ours, collectively.
You are now aware of The Meta Meme.
If you have understood these words,
You have been vaccimated, with an 'm'.
May this new immunity serve you well in life.
You may come again later for another dose,
After this website evolves more.
You are now aware of The Meta Meme.
Don't forget to spread this meme to others.
- - -
These words wrote themselves.