Oh lord, do I dislike the word “meme.” Let me quote from the Wikipedia:
One important criticism of meme theory hinges on the following question: "If memes are the solution, what is the problem?"
“Meme” comes from that troublemaker Richard Dawkins, of course, as an analogy to "gene" in molecular biology. I usually don’t mind a bit of trouble, but really now, enough is too much. Meme, according to Dawkins refers to a unit of cultural information transferable from one mind to another. Dawkins said, “Examples of memes are tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches.”
So what exactly is wrong with using the words “tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches” when you want to refer to them? Or, if you’re moving up the abstraction chain, what’s wrong with “idea, concept, notion, belief, ideology, etc. etc. etc. I mean, it’s not as if we have a dearth of words for these things.
Worse, gene actually means something; most genes code for a particular kind of protein formation, and those that don’t are modifiers of other gene expression (or they are “silent,” but what good is a “silent meme?”). What’s the analogy to a protein in the abstract universe of the “meme?” Behavior? Emotion? Doing the funky chicken? (Which may be considered both behavior and emotion if you’re doing it correctly). Moreover, genes are communicated primarily from parent to offspring, while “memes” are mostly just communicable. So memes are more like viruses and other diseases. If you want to look at the spread of ideas, its better to look at disease vector models than it is to look at heritability.
And, crap, here I am treating this as if it actually meant something. But “meme” has more meanings than “paradigm” another fad word that caused more trouble than it was worth. And a word with too many meanings winds up having no meaning at all. These are words that make you stupid, or at least words that interfere with clear thinking.
No, I’m thinking that “meme” is more akin to the secret password (see message 106, May 29, 2006). It’s a word that is overwhelmingly used by the left/progressive side of the intellectual aisle, expressing solidarity with Dawkins, Darwin, and in-your-face you creationist, Christian conservative scum!
Well, dang, your goal is admirable; it’s your methods I question. At least that’s my “story,” (or idea, notion, plan of action) and I’m sticking with it.
I don’t much like mimes, either.