To the modern online generation, a meme is a funny portrayal of an idea represented by an image overlaid with text that together transmits the information from the meme to a viewer’s brain. This sounds like a simple and shallow definition but impacts of memetics have serious consequences on the way we shape our world.
No, memetics is not a branch of science that studies the tens of thousands of memes published everyday online. The memes you see in the world of the internet have close associations with the idea of memetics.
Memetics is the spread of ideas or information in a society, both online and offline. The idea or information could be either beneficial or dangerous.
Memes and the ultimate truth
Meme is a packet of information (similar to the image, text and the information they carry) which is believed to be the truth by an individual.
Similar to genes in a body that gets copied across generations, memes are information or ideas shared by a vast community of people participating in the evolution of culture.
For instance, people who believe George Floyd’s murder is evil and should be punished and people who believe in white supremacy stand at the opposite ends of the same spectrum of idea, the meme.
These are two different forms of memes that has shaped cultural behavior holistically on two different groups of people. Both these ideas or behavior, packed as a meme, have replicated their copies in two distinct group of people, shaping cultural evolution.
Not to be surprised, today we have culturally evolved to be a dangerous species on the planet.
The Dangerous Meme
Memes transfer from one brain to another and create a culture when a community of people believe the information or idea to be true to their belief system and worthy to die for.
Ideas and information, both good and bad, are infectious. They spread faster like wildfire.
People who believe that killing a human being is a crime might be subordinated to the idea that killing someone whom they consider inferior is fair. This whole template of information or idea is a meme and is selectively chosen by individuals as their belief system.
Other infectious ideas like Sharia Law are widely accepted by many as the ultimate truth to die for, regardless of the danger or evil built within that belief.
Does evil have any good? Do white supremacists, Jihadists and other fringe anti-social elements tend to see the ultimate truth in their dangerous, evil belief systems? In evil, goodness is a mirage. It is an illusion that appears to be true. Such dangerous memes are self-destructive to the entire civilization.
In an ambience where evil with an illusive, non-existent truth is normalcy, dangerous memes tend to spread faster.
They spread through speeches and actions of cult group leaders infecting large population. Evil is seeded as a trend in people’s minds. These ideas are copied innumerable times in human brains spreading faster across the population.
Like a catchy tune of a song, like a trendy torn jeans, dangerous memes become a fashionable new normal. It becomes a part of their belief system. An inclination towards ignorance that adamantly refuses to differentiate good from bad.
No belief system is purely good or purely bad. The good and the bad co-exist. Within a belief system is the battle between the good and the bad- the great war of memes.
(This is not a political blog post. The title for this blog post is inspired from a news that credits Alt-Right groups in assisting the winning presidential candidate of the 2016 US elections)
Featured Image Source: History.com