A meme (rhymes with “cream”) is a unit of culture, an idea. It is usually linguistic in nature and is easily transmitted from one mind to another. Memes are like viruses, in that they self-replicate and grow in a host. They do not require facts. They just require repetition. They are being planted and nurtured by the media every day. But there are certain memes that are designed to create fear. Every time you listen to some news sources, you’ll get a major dose of this kind. The tell-tale sign of embedded meme; the infected person repeats its words verbatim.
Here’s some examples: “Obama is the worst president ever”, “Obama is destroying America”, “Obama is a Muslim”, “Obama is a socialist”, “Obama is a racist.”
Once infected with a meme, all it takes is occasional innuendo to keep it alive. It also takes gullible people who get their information from one source. We like to hear what appeals to our biases. So when a meme confirms what we already believe, we delight in hearing it. Confirmation always feels good.
By this time, I’m sure that some readers have stopped reading. They’re the ones with the worst infections. Memes infect our minds as well as our public discourse. These infections are ultimately like any other, without treatment they can be fatal. No, our bodies don’t die. Our critical thinking processes do. In other words, once infected with a meme, one’s independent thinking is compromised. When that happens the infected mind becomes vulnerable to all kinds of other nutty ideas.
At this point, if you are still reading, you will probably accuse me of being a bleeding heart liberal or some other equally horrible thing. I don’t take offense because I know that’s just the fever from the infection talking.
The good news is that there is a treatment. It takes some effort but it is guaranteed to work. First, you find a non-partisan fact checking website and apply the information you find there in large quantities. (I almost said apply “apply liberally” but stopped myself)
Eventually, you will be able to start thinking for yourself again. It’s at that point when you can see that “Obama is not the worst or the best president ever”, “Obama is not destroying America, the financial industry bandits are busy at work doing that”, “Obama is a Christian, and it doesn’t make any difference anyway”, “Obama is not a socialist or any more a racist than anyone else in this country. He is a corporatist, as have been the last several presidents.” (look up “corporatism” on www.wikipedia.com. You’re welcome.)
Now that you have cured the infection, you will probably want to check the motives of the “Typhoid Mary’s” who create the fear-based memes that infect our national discourse. And what you will find is they do this for personal gain and don’t give a hoot about the damage they’re doing to our country. They profit from creating wedges that continually drive us further and further from any kind of civil dialogue.
Without civil dialogue between and among well-meaning people, we will never see better days. Unfortunately, these folks make millions by destroying society but we all know that money is more important than society. You don’t think so? It must, because we keep buying their toxic products.
Finally, if an infection reaches irreversible destruction of critical thinking, only a new meme can wipe out an old meme. Then fear-mongering memes become particularly difficult to completely eradicate. Regardless of that fact, I’m going to give it a try on at least one.
Did you know that the people who operate the Liberal Christian website “Sojourners” actually wrote letters to Limbaugh, Beck and other Fox contributors, asking them to stop lying? This action implies a new meme for you; “Some Liberals are moral.”
This meme is designed to contradict the one that says, “Only Conservatives are moral.” I’ll bet this meme will never make it on the Drudge Report.
Robert De Filippis