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The Meta-meme

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People don't have ideas. Ideas have people.

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, sense, habit, action or symbol that can be understood or copied.

Examples of memes: ideas, stories, ideologies, jokes, narratives, brands, identities, words, thoughts, 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.

Memes are like the brain's software, and it can be hacked externally by other memes reaching your brain.

The mind was intended to be our slave, our powerful survival tool, but it ended up becoming our master.

You are not your mind, you are the thing that is thinking.

Memes can be parasitic, symbiotic or benign, depending on the effect on the hosts.

The same principles of natural selection and evolution applies for memes.

The strong memes survive, and some memes do so at the expense of their hosts.

You can view memes as a parallel from biologic genes (consider them memory genes)

Replicators like genes and memes carry information, mutate and spread in the natural world.

The replication is done with the help of the organisms that carry that information.

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.

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.

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.

(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.

Any damaging meme is called a toxic meme.

Knowing the difference is important for the life you are to live.

Examples of toxic memes: Scientology, Anti-Vax Movement, toxic  masculinity, toxic femininity, many Political or Religious ideologies,  marketing campaigns that don't put the interest of the individual first,  but places profits first. Examples are endless.

Memes are not spread based on their usefulness to us or based on Truth.

They are spread based on their ability to spread.

We have been infected by memes, and still are.

Any brain that is exposed to an idea that succesfully gets encoded inside it, has been infected by that meme.

It's a constant battle for ideas, and brains are the place where they reside.

Like a computer virus residing inside a laptop.

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 present and future.

The reason most people don't want to give attention to things we  disagree with is because the memes we currently are carrying are  reacting negatively to competition.

If they didn't do that, the memes we host would've died long ago.

As many past memes we held died out.

It's hard to predict if a meme will be toxic,

but you can identify which ones have been toxic by their effects on the hosts and the world in the past.

We have core memes that are driving us. We call those beliefs and identities.

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.

The control of your actions are driven by the expression of memes and genes.

If you think you are in control, it's just another meme being expressed and spread.

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 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.

Creativity is an evolutionary process inside the brain.

Creativity is also the mechanism brains use to decode memes from behavior or symbols and reconstruct them.

Human memes are rarely copied via imitation, but mostly copied via reconstruction of the meaning.

Through Creativity.

The things I am talking here are still memes, they are part of  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.

I am not talking here about magic, metaphysics, telepathy, or other BS.

There are memetic effects to any piece of language, and any sensory information that interacts with you.

To understand them, first be aware of their existence.

Look around and you will see them at play.

Memetic awareness is useful for altering the effects of the memes on the host, and for developing immunity.

It's beneficial to be resistant to the memes that can be damaging to you or others.

Memetics are based on replicators, which have 3 traits.

  1. Copying-fidelity 
  2. Rate of copy 
  3. Longevity / Stickiness

The better the 3 traits are adapted to the environment, the more viral the meme's evolution.

Replicators are general, any pattern applies.

This includes viruses, animals, genes, computer viruses, automated spam bots, crystals, bacteria, parasites.

Anything that can cause itself to be replicated in the future, is a replicator.

Memes are just based on abstractions generated by our minds and culture.

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.

It's a decentralized system of information replication.

Memes have high rate of copy, but low stickiness and copying-fidelity compared to genes and other replicators.

Humans co-evolved with this replicator, hence why our brains are so  big compared to other animals (brain is 5% of mass, with 20% of body  energy)

Big brains were useful for memes, and some memes were useful for  survival, hence our big-brained ancestors were advantaged and  procreated.

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.

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.

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, altough more rudimentary.

Animals usually have the hardware to at best imitate actions (see apes, birds), but not reproduce meaning.

Homo sapiens are able to reproduce meaning, through the mechanisms of creativity and imagination.

Memes in the animal world include: sounds, songs of birds, hunting and survival techniques.

Humans are great hosts for memes. We managed to develop language and  culture, to be able to scale our idea processing abilities, and  inadvertently we gave power to memes and ideas.

Humans are the only animals that can collaborate and share memes 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 internet has far boosted the strength and reach of memes.

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.

Memes and genes are two different systems, and they co-compete as well.

One is much slower and more precise. Nature vs Nurture.

Rational memes are those that utilize our critical faculties, and focuses on the creation of new memes.

Anti-rational memes are those that limit our critical faculties, and focus on preservation of what we know.

Being driven by rational memes is called being skeptical.

Our human impulses and emotions are the first to latch onto memes.

Memes found this out, hence why the things that tend to spread are emotionally loaded (anger, lust, curiosity, etc.)

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:

F(m) = R(m) . A(m) . T(m) . E(m)

R retention

A assimilation

T transmission

E expression

Memetics in a nutshell - An evolutionary model of cultural transmission of information patterns from one individual that hosts it to another.

Memetics doesn't care about whether an idea is true or false, good or bad, it just care if it gets spread or not, indiscriminately of what the meme's content is.

There are two alternatives:

Either our mind becomes our servant, and memes keep dying while we prosper because of their evolution and useful knoweledge.

Or our mind becomes our master, and we keep dying and suffering while memes prosper on top of us.

The choice is ours, collectively.

You now are aware of The Meta Meme.

Don't forget to spread this meme to others.






Principia Memetica

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Evolve this meme


Extra References

 Memetic lexicon:

  • host (carrier) - A succesfully infected individual
  • meme -  A contagious information pattern that replicates by parasitically infecting hosts and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern
  • infection - Succesful encoding of a meme in an individual
  • auto-toxic (self-damaging memes) - Memes that damage the hosts, or are self-limiting
  • exo-toxic (damaging memes) - Memes dangerous to others
  • bait/hook - A part of the meme package that promises benefit for the host (e.g. heaven for religions)
  • threat - A part of a meme that encourages adherence and discourages mis-replication
  • belief-space - The limited space where memes compete for attention
  • censorship - Any attempt to limit the spread of a meme
  • co-meme - A meme that co-evolved alongside another
  • dormant - Memes without hosts, awaiting reactivation (for instance written down)
  • earworm - A tune or melody that is infectious
  • ideosphere - The realm of possible memetic evolution
  • memetic immunity / meme-allergy - Immunity or resistance to some memes
  • immuno-depressant - Anything that reduces a person's memetic immunity
  • immuno-meme (vaccime) - Any meta-meme that can confer resistance or immunity to other memes
  • internet meme - A digitally hosted meme, that is being spread by hosts interacting on the internet
  • infection strategy - Any memetic strategy that encourages infection of a host
  • meme medium - The medium through which memes are propagated
  • meme allergy - An extreme reaction to a particular set of memes by a host of another meme
  • meme-complex (meme package) - A collection of mutually-assisting memes that are sustaining one another and usually are related and together
  • memebot - A host whose entire life is subordinated to the propagation of the meme, robotically, at any opportunity.
  • memeoid - A host whose behavior is basically driven by the meme, even at the expense of his or other hosts survival
  • meme pool - the full diversity of memes accessible to a culture
  • memetic - related to memes
  • memetic drift - Accumulated mis-replications
  • memetic engineer - Someone that creates memes with the purpose of using them to alter others behavior
  • memeticist - One that studies memetics, or a memetic engineer
  • memotype - The information content of a meme or similar memes to it
  • sociotype - The expression of a memotype (like Church is for religion)
  • meta-meme - A meme about memes
  • The Meta Meme - This concept of memes
  • mimicry - A strategy that some memes use, by imitating another successful meme 
  • replication strategy - Any strategy a meme uses to make hosts propagate it
  • retromeme - A meme that tries to infiltrate into an existing meme package
  • tolerance - A meta-meme that confers resistance to a wide variety of memes
  • vector - Medium, method or vehicle that transmits memes
  • identity - A meme that is central to a hosts behavior, actions and beliefs
  • control memes - The memes that are driving action on a host
  • ego - A meme that refers to the host, that has infected the host (or what the host believes is him)
  • viral - A critical mass of replication reached by a sucessful meme
  • cult - A community of membots or memeoids that synergistically work for the purposes of the meme
  • replicator - Any pattern that can be propagated through replication

Further related meta-memes: 

Link 0, Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6, Link 7

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