There are many pejorative terms for television, including “boob tube” and “chewing gum for the mind”, showing the disdain held by many people for this medium. According to a study published in 2008, conducted by John Robinson and Steven Martin from the University of Maryland, people who are not satisfied with their lives spend 30% more time watching TV than satisfied people do. Based on his study, Robinson commented that the pleasurable effects of television may be likened to an addictive activity, producing “momentary pleasure but long-term misery and regret.” — Wikipedia
“A meme is ‘an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture,’” writes Wikipedia, quoting in part the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and other sources:
A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective
pressures.…A field of study called memetics arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model.1
“The popularity of ‘memes’ have taken hold of the Internet, filling Facebook and Pinterest feeds with colorful pictures and offbeat captions,” writes The Universe at Brigham Young
Wikipedia relates author Aaron Lynch’s seven patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:
- Quantity of parenthood: an idea that influences the number of children one has. Children respond particularly receptively to the ideas of their parents, and thus ideas that directly or indirectly encourage a higher birthrate will replicate themselves at a higher rate than those that discourage higher birthrates.
- Efficiency of parenthood: an idea that increases the proportion of children who will adopt ideas of their parents. Cultural separatism exemplifies one practice in which one can expect a higher rate of meme-replication—because the meme for separation creates a barrier from exposure to competing ideas.
- Proselytic: ideas generally passed to others beyond one’s own children. Ideas that encourage the proselytism of a meme, as seen in many religious or political movements, can replicate memes horizontally through a given generation, spreading more rapidly than parent-to-child meme-transmissions do.
- Preservational: ideas that influence those that hold them to continue to hold them for a long time. Ideas that encourage longevity in their hosts, or leave their hosts particularly resistant to abandoning or replacing these ideas, enhance the preservability of memes and afford protection from the competition or proselytism of other memes.
- Adversative: ideas that influence those that hold them to attack or sabotage competing ideas and/or those that hold them. Adversative replication can give an advantage in meme transmission when the meme itself encourages aggression against other memes.
- Cognitive: ideas perceived as cogent by most in the population who encounter them. Cognitively transmitted memes depend heavily on a cluster of other ideas and cognitive traits already widely held in the population, and thus usually spread more passively than other forms of meme transmission. Memes spread in cognitive transmission do not count as self-replicating.
- Motivational: ideas that people adopt because they perceive some self-interest in adopting them. Strictly speaking, motivationally transmitted memes do not self-propagate, but this mode of transmission often occurs in association with memes self-replicated in the efficiency parental, proselytic and preservational
Cheeseburger explains the 1996 Dancing Baby meme at the KnowYourMeme.com website:
Dancing Baby, also known as “Baby Cha-Cha,” is a viral video of a 3D-rendered baby dancing to the intro of “Hooked on a Feeling” by the Swedish rock band Blue Swede. Widely cited as one of the earliest examples of an Internet phenomenon, the Dancing Baby became globally popular via e-mail chains in
i The mission of Brigham Young University – founded, supported, and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life. That assistance should provide a period of intensive learning in a stimulating setting where a commitment to excellence is expected and the full realization of human potential is pursued.
– The Mission of Brigham Young University, at http://aims.byu.edu/ (retrieved: September 20 2012).
For more information on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
1 meme, Wikipedia.org, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme (retrieved: 3 July 2012).
2 Beki Winchel, “When does a meme go too far? The power of an altered picture.” 18 May 2012, at http://universe.byu.edu/index.php/2012/05/18/the-power-of-an-altered-picture/ (retrieved: 3 July 2012).
3 meme, Wikipedia.org (retrieved: 21 July 2012).
4 Dancing Baby, Cheezburger, Inc, KnowYourMeme.com, at http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/dancing-baby (retrieved: 21 July 2012).
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