What is a Meme?

A meme is considered to be a cultural item that is transmitted from one mind to another. There are various ways to pass them on such as writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Memes are the basic building block of our minds and cultures in much the same way that genes are the basic building blocks of biological life due to the way that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures. Essentially, memes are ideas that evolve according to the same principles that govern biological evolution.

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The term itself was coined by Richard Dawkins. He took the word mimeme and shortened it in his book, “The Selfish Gene” published in 1976. Dawkins used the term to refer to anything that an observer might consider as a replicator and defined it as a unit of cultural transmission or a unit of imitation. Theorists on the subject assert that memes evolve by natural selection through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. If you want more examples you can check them on http://happydaysblog.com/category/meme/. They are spread through the behaviors that they generate in their hosts and not all memes are beneficial. They generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. However, they are able to change over time due to the face that people do not always copy them perfectly or because people may refine, combine, or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes. Changes are not always a bad thing and often help memes survive where others fail.

Memes spread in a similar way to contagions, passing from one person to another. Those that are good at replicating tend to leave more copies of themselves in minds and are often written down in books or on websites, which helps them to survive and often thrive. Those that are not so good at replicating tend to die out. The most popular version of this nowadays is the internet memes. At its most basic, this is simply the passing on of a digital file or hyperlink from one person to others using methods available through the internet such as email or instant messaging. At its heart, an internet meme is an inside joke which happens to have a large number of internet users in on it. These types have a tendency to evolve and spread extremely swiftly, sometimes going in and out of popularity in just days.

Though not everyone agrees on what a meme is or what value they have, it is hard not to recognize that they exist due to the increase of occurrences on the internet. Many books have been written on the subject and the theory is constantly evolving. With our ever evolving technology and our ability to connect with people all over the world in the matter of seconds, who can tell where the future of memes is headed.