It’s all about meme

July 14, 2008

Freddie told me yesterday that when he saw his brother and sister-in-law last month, brother Moe had adopted the saying “Google is your friend.”  For example, they would be driving around the Indiana countryside and Priscilla would see some bales of hay or something of the sort, then wonder aloud about how they were created or how much hay was in them or such and such.  Moe would then say, “Google is your friend.”

We’re talking about a group of 50-somethings here, not the crowd who picks up the latest slang, unless maybe it comes through their college-age daughter.  Or maybe it comes through Priscilla working in her city’s public school system.

Anyhow Wikipedia indicates that “(t)he term Internet meme is a neologism used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet.”  The phrase, “Google is your friend” is one such meme.  So is the word “meme” itself, which probably only sociologists and linguists used until just a few years ago.

When you think through the implications of the meme being spread through the Internet, worldwide to millions of computers and eyeballs at the speed of electrons, it seems to me that by the time something becomes an Intenet meme, it’s already passe.  Instead of the Warholian fifteen minutes of fame, it gets only fifteen seconds, and then the voracious inattention span moves on.  The meme has “jumped the shark” (another meme) and it becomes a cliche.

I don’t know why I kept thinking about the subject this morning, but when I was taking my shower, I was telling myself, “Google is not my friend.  Google is my servant.  Maybe Google is my slave…”  It’s understood that one doesn’t make friends with the help.  One treats it with good manners and gives it correct compensation (nothing, in this case, since Google is free) and a Christmas bonus (again, nothing), but the help is not one’s friend.  The help knows it’s place, and I know mine.

Good help is hard to find.  That’s another cliche, from before the time that “meme” became a meme.  In this case, I’m grateful for the help.  But I don’t go around pretending it’s my friend.

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One Response to “It’s all about meme”

  1. Ray Says:

    Another late entry: actually “meme” is a pretty handy concept that describes the phenomenon of an idea that spreads like wildfire throughout culture or civilization much like a virus spreads within and between individuals. For example, the meme of Christianity really took hold and went viral in the 2d millenium; he meme of Islam wasn’t far behind, and it’s experiencing a resurgence today.


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