RE: virus: sentimemes

Gifford, Nate F (
Wed, 16 Jul 1997 10:54:00 -0400

Eric Boyd[] wrote

>John ''Black UN Helicopters'' Williams wrote:

>> I suffer from a severe case of the "obscure = good" meme. I also suffer
>> from a case of "massive advertising makes me want to vomit" meme, which
>> why I could not stand Gump or anything done by Disney.

>Hey! A fellow sufferer! Of course, that latter effect doesn't bother
>me much anymore... I stopped exposing myself. The price I payed for the
>relief was the knowledge that I was *consciously* shutting of a meme
>source. I hold said action to be a violation of a cardinal rule of
>conduct. What to do...

There seems to be a certain quantum logic here: Once you are aware of the
existence of Gump not seeing the movie is as much a meme as seeing it.
I've been able to earn hip points by being able to truthfully claim I've
never seen ET. I'm still aware what ET looked like, that he took the kid
on a flying bicycle, and he built some kind of transmitter out of a
portable phone.

There is a perhaps apocryphal story of a famous physicist who met Clint
Eastwood on a Ferry boat and asked him what he did for a living. Marvin
Minsky once came to Wittenberg University near here to give a talk when
Society of The Mind came out. I saw him standing by himself near the
entrance of the auditorium before the talk started up, took my S.O.M. over
to autograph it and make a fool of myself trying to talk about my A.I.
hobby in the 5 minutes before the talk started. We ended up making small
talk about science fiction, which really was more appropriate given the
circumstances. The point of my story would be that there were 500 people
in the lecture hall come to see Marvin Minsky ... and most of them didn't
know what he looked like.

There seem to be layers of memedom here. For instance Arnold Schwarzenberg
fans probably think of him as a Terminator/Conan type of character vs. a
more realistic Kindegarten Cop type of guy. The memes those fans are
infected with turn them into "Hans and Fritz ... Pump You Up" type
characters. Similarly there are Clint Eastwood act-alikes, Friends
act-alikes etc. I once knew a guy who idolized Roy ??? from "Pickin and
Grinnin" on Hee Haw. As a teenager I could scam beers off him by going
over to his place, talking about how much he looked like Roy, and how great
Hee Haw was. My point would be that if you're infected by a single video
type meme you pretty much advertise your hooks. I would think most of us
find people like this boring because they're so one dimensional. This is
only because we don't need anything from them. To manipulate them all you
have to do is create a scenario where it is likely that their favorite
character would do what they like. This sort of scenario is familiar to
anyone who has spent their time going to singles bars for an extended
amount of time ... some people complain about "the games" because they
refuse to play by the rules ... the rules being amorphous criteria for cool
or desireable ala "Swingers".

More complex configurations of memes are self modifying resulting in
expressions like genuine caring, honesty, rationality, etc.. So, by
deliberately ignoring the Disney/Gump/Limbaugh/whatever meme set all you
are probably doing is <Computer programming metaphor ON> denying yourself
access to programming interfaces for infected individuals. If you choose
to try to interface to those individuals via a more abstract interface
<caring,etc.> then you should accept that you are utilizing a lower
bandwidth interface. <Computer programming metaphor OFF>. For instance, I
enjoy having political discussions with conservatives who listen to G.
Gordon Liddy, but find it near impossible to DISCUSS with people who listen
to Rush Limbaugh. Similarly it is probably easier to debate "Life is like
a box of chocolates" with someone who has read the book as well as seen the

The appeal of Disney Land for me is the class of people. There seems to be
a higher tooth to head ratio at the Disney theme parks then other parks
I've visited. On the other hand, the rides pretty much suck and you can't
get a beer. I don't think your strategy of preventing meme infection by
limiting your exposure is as effective as a strategy of building up
immunities by exposing yourself to as many different memes as possible.
Personally, I couldn't live the life of the physicist who is so engrossed
in his work that he didn't know what Clint Eastwood looked like. On the
other hand I would also be bored being the Clint Eastwood fan who didn't
know what Marvin Minsky looked like.