The Greed Meme

The world is awash in memes —the evolutionary name for an idea that develops through social interaction over time. Whether or not memes are really the way humans developed morals, popular culture has embraced them. Not as something that develops over time, but as something intentionally created to fulfill a purpose (intelligent design, anyone?).

Internet meme creators and remixers can be a force for good, in that they “look for a pathos in the world and try to capture it,” thereby exposing absurd aspects of commercialization and mass media; but it is increasingly important that those who love memes understand and deal with “the ethical dimensions that can come from our happy generation of lulz” -Technology Review

“Pathos” is an expression of suffering —presumably what this is saying that “meme creators” are doing good by “capturing the suffering caused by commercialization and mass media.” These “meme creators,” are, apparently, a force for social good through their exposure of the power structure —turning individual moments of suffering into humor to attract attention to them, thereby “speaking truth to power.”

Here is one of the various ironies of the culture of the ‘net —turning suffering into humor as a method of social justice.

But underlying this irony is another, deeper irony, one that isn’t like to be seen by those who stand on the pitching deck of relativism. On what do those who want to “speak truth to power,” base their campaign? Do these “meme creators” really have no power on which to stand? Even David had a platform on which to stand —his faith in God.

On what do they stand, then?

On the power of building an audience by building the best “meme,” the best representation of suffering as humor, the most absurd contradiction of suffering and commercialism. On the power of the number of clicks their images get, the idea of a “meme,” “going viral.”

In other words, on the power of popularity. The more attention a meme gets, the more important, within the community, the person who created the meme becomes. As a leader of a community, the creator of the meme now has the power to sway thousands (or millions) of people.

Even if we look beyond the reality that this power to sway and influence can easily be (and often is) turned into the power of cold hard case, the underlying meme, itself, is flawed.

The meme that replacing greed for money with greed for attention will make society a more pure place.

Fat chance.

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