The word “meme” is relatively new. It was created, or at least given its current meaning, by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. For those who are not familiar with the term or need a quick refresher, the basic idea is as follows.
A meme is a piece of cultural information. The easiest way to think of it is as an idea or a behavior (and perhaps the idea associated with said behavior). There are many examples: behaviors like handshakes, phrases like “wassup, dawg”, slogans like “Live free or die”, and technology such as cars or computers are all examples. In fact, it may be more difficult to think of things that aren’t memes, though this debate will be saved for another article.
This article is concerned with a very specific meme. Most people are familiar with reproduction, as this is how anyone reading this article was made. Self-reproduction (or asexual reproduction) is reproduction where something creates a copy of itself, as opposed to sexual reproduction, where the offspring takes part of the mother and part of the father. Self-reproduction can create an exact copy of the original. The idea of a meme was explained at the beginning of this article, which means the reader should now have all the necessary pieces to understand the self-reproducing meme.
The concept is simple. The self-reproducing meme reproduces itself. However, all memes spread this way. For instance, if you were to explain to a friend how and when to shake hands, you just helped the handshake meme to reproduce. What make the self-reproducing meme unique is that this is its whole purpose. It is an idea that exists only to spread itself. One possible way of writing this out formally: “The concept and purpose of the self-reproducing meme is to spread the self-reproducing meme,To find out more info about meme, you’ve to visit our website.
This meme is a small one. It only takes a sentence to communicate the basic idea. This article used four paragraphs to introduce the idea to a reader with little or no previous understanding of memes. Since it only has one purpose, spreading itself, it doesn’t have much complexity. It also is not concerned with how it should spread itself; this would be part of a separate meme.
One interesting fact is that anyone who reads and understands this article is now “infected” with the meme, and is now a carrier. Spreading memes is often compared to spreading a virus. Once a person is infected, they spread the virus through contact with other people. By talking about the meme with friends, writing about the meme, or even physically (or vitually) posting copies of this article, carriers spread the meme. The meme can also spread using the help of other memes. For instance, a group of researchers could start studying memes and include this meme, a community on the internet could make spreading this meme part of a game or contest, or a debate on the meme could surface.
Any memes directly related to this meme would be considered part of the same meme-complex, which is a set of related memes. If George Washington were a meme, he could be part of the U.S. Presidents meme-complex, which in turn might be part of the world leaders meme-complex. He also could be part of the Revolutionary War Generals meme-complex. Given the potential complexity, meme-complexes tend to be defined informally, and are more a matter of convenience than hard science.
It is up to the reader to decide what to do with the self-reproducing meme once they learn of it. Some will do nothing, only carrying the information without passing it along. A smaller subset may forget the information entirely. Some readers, on the other hand, will pass the information along by a variety of methods. Others will create new memes that will aid in the spread. If enough carriers do this, the meme could spread to millions of people. Perhaps it will eventually spread to every possible carrier on earth, and even beyond earth. In theory, there is no limit to how far an idea can spread. If you are interested in further discussion on this topic, the author of this article is expecting to write additional articles. Readers are also encouraged to write responses to this article both to further the academic discussion and because they will likely further aid the spread of the self-reproducing meme.