THE MEME: MORE POWERFUL THAN A LOCOMOTIVE


Metamodern Culture: The Meme - More Powerful Than a Locomotive

“What does the warrior do when he can find no way out?”
“He goes deeper in.”

By Allen Sands

But it wasn’t supposed to be a battle, it was supposed to be the peace talks. And still, it turned into a mine field. I attempted to spark a discussion about a meme yesterday and apparently I must have totally stepped in it. I thought the meme was in some ways contradicting itself and I was using my experiences from nature that I personally have witnessed and or experienced myself to illustrate my point. I’ve done a fair bit of scientific reading on this because I truly want to understand and coexist with everyone on the planet. There are times when satire may enter the picture as an element of levity, just to take the sanctimonious attitudes of everyone involved down a notch or two.

It’s like condemning Family Guy for singling out Gays when they’re also poking fun at Latinos, Arabs, and every other group, nationality, religion or political faction. It’s not prejudicial. Everybody gets put on the block. It takes the “power” out of the intent and reduces it to nothing more than an obsolete concept to be chuckled about and brushed off. It becomes its own neutralizer and the first step to its own extinction. I can disagree with a Democrat’s meme and agree with a Republican’s meme and not feel as though I’ve betrayed anyone, least of which myself by not pursuing and following it through.

We tend to hold ourselves as a species above all the other animals in the kingdom and this becomes our fist misguided path. And with the civilization of the “intelligent” species comes “intelligent” rules, customs developing into established norms, taboos, prejudices, love and hate. We confuse human behavior with human nature all the time. And from ancient writings 3000 years old; from a world much less populated with a much lower percentage of unique biological variations, as far as society and it’s understanding of nature is concerned; and from these examples the human species collectively is very easily manipulated into ridicule, spite, hate and paranoia by the edicts of “blessed” prophets and “intelligent” despots.

The meme to my understanding was claiming that anyone who thinks they are “of some archetype” of the opposite sex is a sign of “mental illness” and that a society that promotes the acceptance of such behavior is also mentally ill or “sociopathic”. That opens up an entirely different challenge in the way the idea was presented. That this is an example of a behavioral issue as opposed to biological, natural or chromosomal issue. Have I offended anyone yet? I apologize in advance for any toes I stumble across.

Metamodern Culture: The MemeIt would be more comfortable to be able to move forward with this in any objective way. But with many issues it’s easy to become defensive to the point of cowardice. Views, observations, as misguided or naive as they may appear, can never be objectively discussed in any diplomatic way. Why? Because no one can compartmentalize, empathize or sympathize with anything when their personal, internalized feelings are all over it. We cling to our factions of thought because it’s where we’re the most comfortable. We don’t want to “hurt” anyone’s feelings or have our own feelings “hurt”. And everyone sits with their thumbs up their asses, shrugging their shoulders looking all puppy dog eyed, so afraid of cracking the damn egg shells.

(Three paragraphs about the meme omitted, discussing that which apparently cannot be addressed by adults through social media. That which we live so much of our lives vicariously through – behind the veil of the digital looking glass; where one such as me would assume to be the best open forum for engaging issues dealing directly with and having so much impact on – society.)

You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs and you can’t do exploratory surgery without hitting a few nerves. Society is getting uglier and uglier and a lot of it has to do with the fact that many people from many different camps are failing to respect any attempts at communication without getting their feathers in a ruffle.

There are two parts to any message: The delivery system and the payload. We often miss the payload at the expense of the delivery system and this is where critical, not emotional thinking has to come into play. Or why even bother to pretend you’re even making the effort?

I make it my daily affirmation to help myself along with other people to see things, and they in turn help to build bridges and intersections of understanding that help me. I examine the logic from every point of view that I can. I try to understand the environments of behavioral experience we all come from. I may not understand, but through some clumsy engagement, understanding will come. And it takes some guts to go there. It’s not easy. Feelings will be hurt and sensibilities will be offended and egos will leap to the defense of their insecure masters. But through that process the festering sore will get cleaned out and will eventually heal.

I’m guilty of it too. I’ve reacted intensely to a meme or a statement that just blew my mind. Half truths permeate the internet with the best and worst of intentions and we’ve all been suckered at least once. Democrats, Republicans, Gays Straights, conservatives and liberals all post their biased affronts to society.

Much of the sentiment behind the memes we see online is exactly what comedians will have you buying tickets to see at a comedy club. Or in a French comic strip. What’s the defining difference? African Americans now own and have trademarked the “N” word. If a white guy uses it, it’s a racial slur. You hate the word but greet each other with it. Does this make any sense at all? Not to some of us. If you’re trying to eliminate an evil reference, you “disown” it you don’t nurture it. Or is it the fact that you have taken ownership of it, in some way a symbolic gesture? A way of taking the insidious meaning or ‘power’ out of how it was used by white people and making it humorous or weakening it in some way? Is this a fair question? Yes or no and why?

We pay millions of freakin’ dollars to universities to study how a flea’s knees make it jump. Surely we can have a civil, intelligent discussion about this and any other social, sexual or political issue – for free. Be public broadcasting, don’t just listen to it. Cats, puppies, art and soup recipes are all pleasant distractions but they won’t change a thing or win any consequential victories for humanity. The meme however incites. So I question and challenge the message when it knocks on my door, I can’t let it move on without calling it out. A meme to me represents “illegitimate authority” passed from one agentic mind to the next, unless I believe it to be true. And most of them are generally only half true.

I have conversations with my male friends quite frequently about these (identity) issues. I had an hour long discussion about this specific issue with some of my best male and female friends earlier. I’m just trying to “emerge” with the same society you’re a part of. I’m examining the “established” norms of society with the same attempt at critical thinking that you are. I’m like that kid who keeps asking why and “because” is never a good enough answer. Sometimes it may not come out right, but honestly, with all due respect I’m really trying.

Is this an apology or am I back-pedaling? I can and do apologize for my clumsy “delivery systems” but I won’t apologize for the message or payload I’m trying to deliver. Thank you for your consideration.

“Ideas cause ideas and help evolve new ideas. They interact with each other and with other mental forces in the same brain, in neighboring brains, and thanks to global communication, in far distant, foreign brains. And they also interact with the external surroundings to produce in toto a burstwise advance in evolution that is far beyond anything to hit the evolutionary scene yet.” – Jacques Monod, the Parisian biologist who shared a Nobel Prize in 1965 for working out the role of messenger RNA in the transfer of genetic information. From smithsonianmag.com

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