OpinionOnce you get your head around Memetics, it is fun and hard to avoid thinking of everything in those terms.
      – Thelevellers, 2010-02-09 at 11:55:48   (38 comments)

On 2010-02-09 at 11:59:50, Thelevellers wrote...
Since reading The Meme Machine I have found myself entertained by the new perception of WHY I enjoy spreading the music and TV I like so much - it's basically for a similar reason to why we enjoy sex: It's spreading the memes. I have to say, that introducing people to a new band that I love, and having them respond with instant 'Oh my god! these guys are AMAZING!' is possibly the best thing in my life at the moment - seeing as I have no girlfriend (or even a budding relationship). I find it fascinating (when I remember) to link stuff back to a meme/gene based world view, and see if it makes stuff make more sense that way.
On 2010-02-09 at 14:19:45, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Well maybe not everything - but many things, yes. It's more about the way our motivations are based on the biological imperatives our ancestors have handed down to us that drives our daily decisions. For example, one experiment places a lizard in a room which is hot at one end and cold at the other - with food at the cold end. The lizard naturally prefers the warm end with one exception - when it gets hungry. It then has to balance its hunger against its need to stay warm, and will only make the rush to/from the cold end when its hunger is great enough. If you add our many other motivations in life, we're little different I think - we balance our needs and do whatever seems most pressing or rewarding. [*Spreads the lizard meme*]
On 2010-02-09 at 15:16:52, Thelevellers wrote...
Very true, I find it interesting when I find myself buying another ticket to a gig - when I'm already not earning enough to stay out of my overdraft, without the cost of going to a gig. But then I go to said gig, and have so much fun, next time I see one worth while I don't even try and stop myself anymore! That's the first place I started really noticing that I'm not sure how much control 'I' really have... It's not the biological imperatives that are so interesting for me, as that concept isn't so new, but the memetic side of it, that these are the things we can pass on regardless of blood relations (although it is of course easier to pass stuff onto blood relations in a way, as there is a biological imperative as well as the memetic one...) *processes lizard meme, catalogs for possible future dissemination* :P
On 2010-02-10 at 11:01:55, Lee J Haywood wrote...
People copy ideas from each other all the time as a matter of convenience, and they're rarely packaged well enough to be considered memes (i.e. there's not much fidelity). For example, people might see me being proactive in certain ways and choose to follow my example but do so in their own way - the general idea is the same, but the details are completely made-up by them. Again nothing to do with memes, but illusions are very good at illuminating our shortcomings. Knowing how your brain discards information and tries to make sense the incomplete view of the world it receives helps you to realise that the model you have of the world is itself a mere illusion. When you put together memes (learning using the least energy?), biological imperatives/drives and also the ways in which the brain is easily fooled by illusions you do start to think that you're less clever than you might have thought otherwise. It also makes me more likely to believe that the sense of a conscious self is an after-the-fact illusion.
On 2010-02-10 at 11:50:02, Thelevellers wrote...
Ah, this is where The Meme Machine comes in - that defines a meme as anything that can be copied/imitated. So in your example, the person copying your proactivity has picked up the meme of proactivity, but like you say, they are free to enact that meme in the way that fits best the the rest of the meme population in their head. Another (maybe better) way of lookign at it is the example used in the book: When you re-tell a story, you are not copying the initial story exactly, you are copying the core message - much of the detail is irrelevant to the main message and can be changed as suits the situation/person at the re-telling. The meme is not the story, but the underlying message that the story tells. (I think that makes sense?)
On 2010-02-10 at 11:50:41, Thelevellers wrote...
Or to put it simply - it is the general idea that IS the meme. Lol, I should take a moment before posting more often... :)
On 2010-02-10 at 15:34:14, Thelevellers wrote...
Wow, I just found this, er, rebuttal I guess, of the "psuedo scientific theory of memetics" http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/redalyc/pdf/339/33905206.pdf Haven't had a proper think about it yet - am in college with much chatter around - but thought it fitted in here.
On 2010-02-11 at 11:27:02, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Well that was exactly what I was just thinking - that memes only work with good fidelity, as I'd said, so the question is how much fidelity do you need? Having said that, if I see someone else being proactive in a different way (after copying me) I can modify my own methods and so on - so the 'meme variants' are competing with each other. However, there's no evidence that a single variant would have any sort of fitness that would take over the others. The general proactivity would be one meme, and the individual ways of implementing it would be separate memes. It seems enough to simply say that people copy and imitate each other, but meaningless to call every bit of information that is copied a meme. How do you decide what's worth actually being given this status?
On 2010-02-11 at 18:04:10, Thelevellers wrote...
The point at which you decide a meme is a meme is the only point I'm undecided on at the moment, and I haven't found a good case either way yet, as I find the power of accepting the meme theory really helps explain things, so I am reluctant to give it up :P I have realised that I am perilously close to a religious viewpoint there though, which is why I am now trying to look at the cons. Part of me is saying: It doesn't matter if a meme is tiny, because then the larger memes must become memeplexes, made up of the smaller 'insignificant' memes. Like how DNA is actually tiny and insignificant, and the changes between one gene and another and that level seem irrelevant and silly, but it's when they combine together that the effect becomes interesting.
On 2010-02-12 at 11:46:49, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Genes are transient physical entities. A successful gene is one that not only has multiple copies spread around but also one that persists for many generations - typically millions of years. The information content of one of your genes is typically only a copy of a piece of information that has been around for aeons, and you're a temporary vessel for it to pass through to the next generation. Memes ought to follow the same principle, persisting for multiple generations of humans - even though they replicate horizontally. So religion is a clear contender because although religions do come and go they are unreasonably successful. Being proactive for a few years wouldn't really count as a successful entity because as soon as my group dissolves the meme is likely to go extinct quickly. If I made it a written rule though, which future groups read, then I make it more permanent. So you also have to ask if writing is cheating (it takes away the opportunity for mutation to some extent) or is an inanimate vessel?
On 2010-02-12 at 13:14:36, Thelevellers wrote...
I wouldn't say writing avoids mutation - look at the debate over different translations of various holy texts. Writing merely increases the fidelity. You could look at computers as another increases in fidelity. and even as a threat to humans insofar as they are a far better method of propagating memes (look at the various mini infections around on the internet) than human mind to mind transmission. A key point of memetics is that it is a highly accelerated form of evolution, so we can see the birth of a new species, it's high point and it's extinction in one lifetime. So writing is a way of slowing the mutation rate to keep a meme alive for longer, you could say.
On 2010-02-13 at 15:22:54, Lee J Haywood wrote...
You're mixing timescales though - on the one hand you say that memes come and go rapidly, yet writing doesn't mutate anywhere near as fast as information transmitted by speech, and on the other hand you're saying that holy texts are corrupted but they persist for many human generations. The issue with writing is that (a) it provides a way to be precise and reduce errors and (b) is completely inanimate, unlike genes which have so far always been incorporated within an living organism (so long as you consider viruses to be 'alive' in some sense, I suppose - i.e. active).
On 2010-02-13 at 18:14:01, Thelevellers wrote...
Yes I am mixing timescales, but I think it still works: Memes, when in the human mind, are shortlived and undergo very rapid mutations and evolution. Therefore it makes sense that if there is a method to make a meme last longer, any meme that takes advantage will be more successful. That's where the writing meme comes in handy - now memes can be very long lived, in ideal circumstances they can be permanent, but becuase perfect circumstances they aren't always perfect, and still have the odd 'mutation' (error) and so still evolve, but at a much slower rate - closer to that of genes. That seems to make sense to me - the mixed timescales are fine, as there are, in a way, two different rates of evolution in memetics, depending on whether the meme in question gets itself recorded, and to what medium. (obviously being recorded 'to the internet' doesn't slow down mutation, although it can vastly increase infection rate).
On 2010-02-13 at 18:17:12, Thelevellers wrote...
I'm not quite sure of your point with 'b'? unless you mean that it is new that a replicator can store itself in an inanimate form, for later 'reactivation'? I figure that would be the holy grail of any replicator - if it is unsuccessful in the current gene/meme pool, then being able to 'chill in the back ground' until it fits in better would be a very useful thing? Maybe I'm missing your point though...
On 2010-02-14 at 18:44:07, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Well memes are supposed to be passed from person to person, and yet it's true that they're actually more successful if they find a non-verbal way of doing it - whether on paper or via the internet. I just think it's important to say define a meme is not just in terms of its content but also its means of transmission. One important aspect of memes is that they're subject to deliberate alteration. You could call it the equivalent of genetic engineering, expect that memes primarily change precise because of deliberate alterations with low fidelity copying errors being taking a bit of a backseat. I don't think there's much to argue about here, as we can only point things out about memes and your original opinion has a simple agree/disagree nature to it.
On 2010-02-14 at 18:47:09, Thelevellers wrote...
Maybe there's not a huge amount to argue about, but the discussion has been fun/interesting (for me at least) - proving the opinion correct :P I'm not convinced that memes are 'supposed to be passed from person to person'. That is simply the way they have started, theoretically, if memes 'exist' in the same way genes do, and as such are simply replicators, then they are passed on and replicated through any means possible...
On 2010-02-20 at 00:57:58, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I've been thinking about a situation and thinking how you'd see it as a meme and I see it as the butterfly effect. I was walking around the frozen lake a couple of months ago, and on one particular day I witnessed a couple of people skimming chunks ice across the surface. It made a distinctive whistling sound, so from that point on I started doing it myself (memetic copying). They were probably there just the one time, whereas I visit the lake regularly and by being there and skimming the ice I had others join me. But I also met a woman as a result, who I've since seen twice again. So for me the chance meeting bought about because of skimming the ice, which in turn was a result of copying someone else, has led to a friendship that hinges on the butterfly effect. I've now influenced her life and she'll influence others, as well as me in return, so there's a chaotic cause-and-effect mechanism set-up. For me, the future is unpredictable but depends entirely on the present - and you can change the present.
On 2010-02-20 at 10:08:05, Thelevellers wrote...
I'm not convinced you can't see it as both myself! Though of course the butterfly effect itself is technically a meme as I understand it :P You've made me want to find a frozen lake to skim ice on myself now! Shame there's no frozen lakes near me :(
On 2010-02-20 at 11:01:53, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@Thelevellers: Did I mention that I walked across the lake too? On 3 different days... I took videos and photos.
On 2010-02-20 at 11:55:08, Thelevellers wrote...
Git. :P
On 2010-02-20 at 12:00:01, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@Thelevellers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/leehaywood/tags/frozenlake/ - there's a video of me bashing the ice whilst standing on the lake, and views of the side of the lake standing on it. (I also have a video of the whole outside of the lake from the middle, but haven't uploaded it anywhere yet).
On 2010-10-13 at 19:25:19, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I started reading The Meme Machine today...
On 2010-10-14 at 15:46:05, Thelevellers wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: I look forward to hearing what you think of it! Especially the end where she goes off on one a bit... :)
On 2010-10-14 at 17:54:34, Lee J Haywood wrote...
One thing that's occurred to me, regardless of what might be in the book, is that for those of us who are addicted to information (especially from the Internet) memes are unavoidable. Obviously a desire to learn is a useful trait for our species to have, but it seems that the modern media feeds on our natural tendency unhealthily. It's the same as chocolate - we didn't evolve to like it, it just happens to push the right buttons and is thus known as a super-stimulant.
On 2010-10-15 at 15:32:27, Thelevellers wrote...
Yes! Very much so... I was actually thinking about this earlier this week. I am (at least at this point in my life) ambivalent about having my own children, and would be happy with adopted kids - as I could infest them with MY memes. Which is a very important evolutionary development, if more people started thinking (and acting, I'm aware this attitude could well change in me in a few years!) like that it could conceivably completely change the way genetic evolution affects humans. Or something. Just struck me as a key point related to the differences and 'competition' between memes and genes.
On 2010-10-15 at 15:34:06, Thelevellers wrote...
Also, as I am in the dating pool at the moment, I keep finding myself VERY keen to induct new potential partners with my loves - music, TV, etc - to an unhealthy degree - I am consciously holding back a bit as I have found myself almost going ADHD trying to cram as many different things into some poor girls head!
On 2010-10-15 at 18:08:52, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I think you're being too specific there. We actually want other people to like the same things that we do generally, not just our partners. You're disappointed with someone if they don't like the same music, films, etc. that you do but like someone more if they do. In fact, I'd say it's far better to let go of such things completely and just look for people who already share your interests - or at least are so interested in you that they'll show an interest in your interests. Usually people either like something or they don't, and it's fruitless to try to change them.
On 2010-10-15 at 20:04:56, Thelevellers wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: I wasn't talking about changing them, I pre-select people (to a degree) based on likelihood of them liking similar/same stuff. It's more a matter of specifics: So they like rock music, I want to see if they like this particular band, they like comedy shows, I want to see if they like Spaced (I would say 'this particular show' but if they don't like Spaced it's a pretty major black mark :P )
On 2010-10-17 at 14:08:26, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I realise that, but you're still hoping that by introducing people to things that they'll magically like the things you do. In some cases you'll be lucky, but my experience has been that more often you'll end up disappointed. It's easier to love someone for who they are than who you want them to be.
On 2010-10-17 at 15:55:25, Thelevellers wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: Yeah, I'm hoping they'll like it, but I know it's not the be all and end all. Anyhoo, BTT before I go off on one about me and women ;) Got much further in the book?!
On 2010-10-18 at 17:26:03, Lee J Haywood wrote...
No, I've been busy at / recovering from the beer festival, etc. I should be back to it tomorrow. I'm thinking about how difficult it is to stop thinking at the moment.
On 2010-10-18 at 19:46:22, Thelevellers wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: Oooh, beer festival - nice! :) I'm with you on the stopping thinking issue - it can be amazingly difficult to shut your brain up at times! Sometimes it's so noisy I can't read, which really annoys me...
On 2010-10-20 at 21:56:24, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I think a key way to calm your mind is to simply go on holiday, to escape from your daily cage (your home, workplace, car, etc.) and day-to-day activities and reminders of things done or to-do. I never go on holiday as such, yet going back to Sheffield recently - for the first time in 17 years - brought tears to my eyes as I was hit by a flood of memories associated with one particular place. So now I think that staying at home too much can be a bad thing by the sheer number of associations it burdens you with.
On 2010-10-21 at 15:57:15, Thelevellers wrote...
Yeah, doing new stuff definitely helps - or at least gives you better things to think about than yourself ;) The problem is finding the people to do stuff with, and the money to do it too! Hopefully my recent pay rise should kick in this month and make life a little easier like that...
On 2010-10-28 at 13:47:07, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Doing things with other people doesn't help calm your mind - it does the exact opposite! If you're going to take a break, you need to get away from people you know primarily, but even spending a bit of time with complete strangers will have you thinking about them and your relationship with them.
On 2010-10-28 at 15:38:41, Thelevellers wrote...
Sort of. My problem is that I turn my brain onto full power when I spend too much time on my own, and I find I am always instinctively running thoughts through my head every moment I'm not talking to people. If I spend time with people more, my brain gets out of that habit somewhat... Also, sometimes it helps to talk stuff out of my head, other times talking makes it more of an issue to think about. Depends a bit on who I talk to, I think. Spent an hour or so getting frustrated with my ex the other night as she seemed to be wilfully misinterpreting everything I said, and left my mind going 19 to the dozen. Have recently started an infrequent 'diary' as a way of writing whatever is bugging me down to get it out of my head. Works pretty well so far. :)
On 2010-10-31 at 23:22:01, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Perhaps it's true that you're actually better off in a stable relationship where you have someone to unload your mind onto on a regular (daily) basis. I've never really had that, as an unstable/fragile relationship is a burden rather than a way to relieve your mind.
On 2010-11-03 at 19:57:09, Thelevellers wrote...
Oh, there's no question about the benefits of being in a stable relationship! It's part of the problem for me being single - I've been where I want to be, and would dearly love to have something like that again, but have to remind myself that it takes a long time to build that up with someone new. Is somewhat frustrating at times. You're right about fragile relationships, I split up with my most recent ex because staying together was taking too much work on my side (there was a large 'care' imbalance which I was trying to manage - bad idea!).