I just finished reading Richard Brodie’s book Virus of the Mind and want to comment on it. The concept of the meme was new to me and therefore of some interest. Although the science of memetics, if it can be considered a science, may be helpful in understanding cultures and how they develop, the book never gave concrete examples of how memes might assist us to realize fuller and richer lives in the pursuit our perceived purpose… that would be of great interest to me.
Quotes cited from “Virus of the Mind” follow this format: (Chapter.Sub-Title.Paragraph)
1. … your thoughts are not always your own original ideas. You catch thoughts–you get infected with them, both directly from other people and indirectly from viruses of the mind. (Introduction..9)
Comment: I believe we have original thoughts… most likely someone had thought that thought before but our uniquely similar idea didn’t necessarily come about because someone else had already figured it.
2. The meme, which rhymes with “beam” is the basic building block of culture in the same way the gene is the basic building block of life. (Introduction:Paradigm Shift.5)
Comment: Brodie suggests that the gene is our hardware, and the meme is our software… nice analogy!
3. A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events such that more copies of itself get created in other minds. (1.A Working Definition.1)
Comment: I can relate to this idea using catchphrases such as “really,” “seriously,” “cool,” “absolutely,” etc. When certain words or phrases “catch on” the go on for years.
4. The memes that appeal to people’s instincts are more likely to replicate and spread throughout the population than the ones that don’t. (1.Instincts and Programming.4)
Comment: I would assume that explains why “sex” memes are so prevalent in commercials and other forms of advertising.
5. Strategies are beliefs about cause and effect. When you are programmed with a strategy-meme, you unconsciously believe behaving a certain way is likely to produce a certain effect. That behavior may trigger a chain of events that results in spreading the strategy-meme to another mind. (1.Strategy-memes.4)
Comment: I’ve always looked at strategies as theories and therefore, strategies regarding particular cause and effect relationships change as we change and grow.
Danger, Food, and Sex
6. Memes involving danger, food, and sex spread faster than other memes because we are wired to pay more attention to them–we have buttons around those subjects. (5.The Evolution of Communication.7)
Comment: This idea shows itself through current day media in movies, T.V., commercials, books, and video games.
7. It’s difficult to step out of your own memetic programming and see yourself as others see you. (9.Conspiracy Theories.14)
Comment: I think most of us would be shocked to experience how others’ view us in comparison to how we see ourselves. That exercise would be an eye-opener!
8. You probably know people who are addicted to news, as well as other kinds of media stimulation. It’s a drug of the mind, capturing your attention and giving little in return. Turn off the tube. (9.Man Bites Dog.21, 22)
Comment: I have to admit that I am addicted to certain newscasts… and as I watch them I usually get all worked up which reinforces my belief system. However, I have experienced that when I take a break from watching them, life seems to be more pleasant and peaceful… so yes, “Turn off the tube.”
9. The reason faith in God works is that when people believe they have a purpose to their lives, they get things accomplished that they otherwise wouldn’t. (10.To the Greater Glory of God.5)
Comment: I agree with this statement with the following observation. The things that get done are usually for the benefit of oneself; at least initially.
Alignment of Purpose
10. Alignment of purpose is not necessarily a bad thing–make sure the purpose is one that you consciously subscribe to, that’s honestly accomplishing what it says it is, and that’s personally fulfilling. (11.Power Viruses.27)
Comment: This is the measure of real purpose in any endeavor.
Images – Post image: “Reprogramming Your Inner Child” by Keoni Cabral is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Web 15 March 2014.
Quotes – Brodie, R. (2009). Virus of the Mind. United States of America: Hay House, Inc.