What Is A Meme?


From “Leave Britney Alone” to “Chocolate Rain,” let’s face it, we love these things. I know I’m not the only one here who’s had that Bed Intruder “Hide your kids, hide your wife” verse stuck in my head for as long as I can remember (“He’s climbing in your windows …”). And I’m not even going to get into  “Baby Monkey on a Pig.”

Richard Dawkins’ definition of a meme in The Selfish Gene is “a unit of cultural transmission.” Like genes and diseases, the prevailing characteristic of memes is that they tend to replicate, just add humans.

Anything can be a meme, but there are certain characteristics that make information units more likely to go viral (namely funniness).

The Internet, where replication is as easy as hitting “Like” or “Retweet,” is one big meme pool.  Internet hipsters (people who spend a lot of time online – cough) now judge each other by whether they posted it before whatever it is it hit Buzzfeed.

Much like hardy genes confer biological advantage, being aware of memes now confers a feeling of superiority amongst those in the know. Hence the above video, which was basically engineered to propagate itself.

Side note: This is like almost every conversation I’ve ever had with anyone. Ever.

Thanks Jeremy Toeman.