Monday, May 22, 2006

Growing the Gratitude Meme

What follows is from a conversation at Zaadz on the nature of memes. Here is the original post:

A joke is a meme. The alphabet is a meme. Religion itself is a meme. A “meme” is simply ideas that get passed down from person to person.

The word (rhymes with “deem”) is related to the word “gene.” And like genes, as an idea is passed around, the “meme pool” gets bigger. The ideas that spring from the first idea may be different, but still in the same lineage.

In internet contexts, however, a meme is simply a short way of describing those quizzes you see everywhere, the MySpace bulletins you see posted fifty thousand times, that same forward about the king in Nigeria who needs your investment…

How about instead of sending useless crap around the internet, we start some memes with a higher intention?

I found this really insightful webpage: here.

It brings up an interesting point. “[Memes] remove the element of conscious choice,
making the process purely mechanical.”

Is this what we're supposed to be breaking free from? The “groupthink” so to speak? But aren't memes helpful? They give us language, history, knowledge passed down from generation to generation…

To what degree are memes in control of us, and are we in control of memes?

This was my reply:

Memes can be thought of as viruses for the mind. But let me clarify one thing: there are memes, like fashion trends, or hip hop, or a phrase, or whatever, and then there are MEMES, like the developmental levels of Spiral Dynamics, or religions, which are collections of inter-connected memes.

Memes, either little or big, are only as "automatic" as we choose to let them be. If we are mindful people, then we choose whether or not to infect our consciousness with a given meme. And if we get infected against our will, we choose whether or not to get rid of it.

Many MEMES have built in virus protection to prevent them from being replaced by a different MEME or to keep those infected as carriers. For example, Christianity has one of the best virus protections ever devised: eternal damnation. Buddhism has a pretty good protection too: endless rebirths in samsara.

The original post hit the nail on the head: why not “start some memes with a higher intention”? Thus we have Zaadz, which is as much a meme – an idea – as it is a sorta-physical space in the cyber world and an actual physical piece of software and hardware.

On my blog, I have been doing gratitude posts for a couple of months, posting something I am grateful for every day. In that time, some other bloggers have begun doing something similar, even if only once a week. I want to make gratitude a meme.

So here is the challenge: let's put the technology of memes to work doing something good in the world. Let's become more grateful people. Life really is amazing and joyful, even when we are hurting or sad. Let's all put a daily gratitude post on our home blogs and/or on our Zaadz blogs. At least for a while. If you are not a blogger, add a comment to your favorite blog's gratitude post.

Give it a chance for a few weeks and see if it changes your outlook. It sure has changed mine.

Are you in?

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