In Part I, I introduced memes by talking about how news is not news anymore, that for some, ignorance may be bliss, and gave some insight into how memes take root in the first place.
I warned you that wrapping your mind around memes was going to be difficult.
The “They” Behind Research
Vaccinating against the flu will lead to less flu and you can prove that with very powerful, well designed studies.
But that only tells us half of the story, yes, I will be less likely to contract flu, but what would I be at more risk for?…
This is the conversation that “They” leave out of the story when “they” prove by research that vaccinating against polio leads to less polio.
But what happens when you vaccinate against polio or any other disease for that matter?
Can it have any long-lasting effects can it have on your immune system? What other diseases and problems may you be more likely to get later in life because you vaccinated? How does the risk of these side effects compare to the risks of the disease in the first place?
This is where the story is silent. This is where it gets less coverage in the media.
Why? Because it’s tougher to study.
What’s true for you, may not be true for me.
The truth is science is the science of probabilities. Most research is based on 95% statistical significance…but what happens the other 5% of the time…do “They“ just decide to ignore it?
A Kaleidoscope of Memes
We need to be careful about the hidden memes in the media surrounding us. These “mind viruses” are the hidden assumptions, biases and purpose behind media sounds and images.
Meme’s come in many forms…it can be the white coat put on the Doctor in a pharmaceutical commercial, it can be the fact that the person represents the age, personality and sex of the target market.
It can be statements like “Everyone knows…“, “3 out of 4 dentists choose…” or “you’d be ignorant if you didn’t…“.
Memes can even be the red color of a Coke can, which by itself is not a meme, but when a brand & experience is associated with that color, it becomes a meme.
You could watch American Idol and not be consciously aware that Coke was a huge sponsor, (what was Simon sipping on again?), but if you pooled the viewing audience on their preferences for Coke or Pepsi following the show, they’d be more likely to choose Coke.
Shameless advertisement abounds in films.
Did you know that Hershey’s paid a lot of money for Reese’s to be the featured candy for E.T.?
I’d say that worked out pretty well.
Social Media and Memes
Pretty much all forms of media prosper by using memes.
The cultural transformation that is taking place right under our noses is that the internet and social media allows us to pick and choose our memes, and therefore pick and choose our custom realities.
Fortunately, this means health-oriented people can connect with other health-oriented people. Liberals can connect with more liberals. Conservatives with more conservatives.
Unfortunately this means that radicals can connect with other radicals, and dangerous cults are able to find more members (making the assumption that all cults are dangerous of course)
The bad news is we can’t control our memes as they work subconsciously.
The good news is that we can choose to be aware of them and surround ourselves by memes of our liking.
Stay tuned to parts III and IV, where we look to how we can use memes to improve our health, and how the concept of memes and memetics (how memes are made and transferred) is really just applied quantum physics.