If the watchword/phrase for the 1960s was “Question authority” maybe the watch phrase for 2010s & social media ought to be “Question meme.” Because every single one of us – yes, YOU too – really, really should.
I wrote the above at the beginning of September and after it came a really fascinating conversation with my high school English & Theory of Knowledge teacher, Mr Ted Kopacki. I soon realized I wanted to put the conversation up here…so that it took me until now to get to it tells you something about how quickly I move on my ideas. Anyhow, it was a really interesting exchange for me, hopefully someone out there finds it intriguing too.
(I’m always up for more education and interesting conversations, so feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments. If I did make any mistakes, please keep it civil.)
So, then the comments below my original post:
Me: Question 1. What is a meme?
Me: Hint: it’s not a pic with with clever text over it. That’s an image macro.
Kopacki: I read it and I still don’t have a clear idea of what it is.
[Mr Kopacki meant the Wikipedia article, presumably on image macros.]
Me: I’m not sure if you read the article on meme. I describe it as a cultural virus, bits of ideas that are transferred among people in the same social sphere that carry a linguistic currency on their own. For example, “mainstream media” or the idea that President Obama is a secret Muslim or (I know this goes back a few decades) the impression that Asian cars were worthless. It’s not exactly the idea in and of itself, but the context behind the idea that is spread.
Me: It’s a structure that lets ideas get used like a linguistic mechanism, but the meaning is only mutually understood when we have the same social insights. IE kids today who are used to the Honda Prius and other very fine cars might not know that in 1970s and 80s Hondas were considered lemons or just low value vehicles. In fact “Honda” was often invoked as a joke for something that was low class…