Re: virus: Re: virus-digest V1 #120

John P. Schneider (
Sat, 28 Dec 1996 23:07:23 -0600

XYZ wrote:


> First we have to decide what a meme really is. A meme is not
> simply an idea. A meme is not a method. A meme is not button
> pushing. A meme is not the communications of ideas. A meme
> is not an idea that spreads.
> I can get an idea in my head that you and I should go out together
> to local restaurant for some coffee and donuts. I can communicate
> that idea to you via the english language. That idea spreads to
> you and you accept that idea and say, "OK!". This entire incident
> had nothing to do with memes.
> A meme is a special kind of idea. It is an idea that seems to
> "have a life of it's own". It reproduces. It mutates. It has a
> lifespan. Somehow, when a person is "infected" with a meme, they
> have no need to put any effort into remembering it, since it will
> take-up residence in memory on it's own. You will remember the
> meme without any effort at all. Not only that, once the meme is
> communicated by any means available, it will immediately take-up
> residence in the recipient without the recipient even having to
> consciously think about it. Sounds a little far-fetched, doesn't
> it? It sounds like the beginning of a good sci-fi novel even.

My working definition of meme is not as strict; it is something like:
'meme = reproducible concept'. In just about any transmission I've
ever made where I've used the word 'meme', you could replace it with
'idea' and not change the meaning at all.

> It sounds like everybody is so enamored with the beauty of the
> concept, that they have put all common logical sense and reasoning
> ablities aside just so they can all stand around and admire the
> wonders of something they don't even know exists or not.

I think the language of memetics has been stretched a bit. My def'n
of 'meme' is rather loose compared to other definitions. If I double-
check the definition over at the 'memetic lexicon page', I see that it
is much closer to what you have. Under that strict meaning, I may end
up agreeing that memes don't exist. But, that will not stop me from
pursuing my thoughts concerning 'reproducible ideas'. If ever I want
to learn about hypnotism or NLP, then a stronger version of 'meme'
may aid my understanding.... as it happens, however, I know very
little about such.

> But you and I are different John. We are meme hunters. A special
> breed of meme-free humans that scientists have secretly breeded just
> for the very purpose of saving humankind from the grips of the meme
> invasion (prove to me that I am wrong about this -- Hehehe! It is
> useful and it does explain the reality of my life as I know it!).

Careful: I don't wanna be elitist.

> Some things to ponder while discussing this are: Is racism just a
> "good idea" or is it a meme?

Meme, I would guess.

> Has anyone ever really encountered a meme in their personal life?

Various 'habits' maybe? Fashion? Belief in God? Conservativism,
liberalism? Chauvinism, etc...

> What are the minimum "system requirements" for a meme to success-
> fully exist (In other words, can retarded or semi-retarded people
> be infected with the same memes as normal people can?)?

They must be capable of some individual behavior, I would think...
that way, we might note how that behavior is modified when infected
by a new meme.... for instance, in the movie, "The Rain Man", Tom
Cruise infects Dustin Hoffman with the 'fashion meme' (causing him
to say "K-Mart sucks".)