Introduction

Metamemetic conversations are how macromemetics will save the world from itself. When there’s a food shortage, activists find they have to first make others aware of the problem before anything can actually be done. This is a pitfall which is memetic in nature.

Let Me Tell You About It

The problem with “raising awareness” is that you’ve created a bunch of memes and more importantly a bunch of memetic rewards. The rewards become an end in themselves. You, as an activist, have created yet another way for people to act, do something, or rather, nothing, and get a memetic reward, resonance, a memetic orgasm, from their fellow humans who have also been “woke” to the problem.

In macromemetics, we talk of “infection,” or “injection,” i.e., the misguided activists have “injected” their memeplex of activism into a given population, and the more successful their injection efforts, the larger cohort becomes infected. The infected persons[1] now are able to derive memetic rewards [2] from one another simply by talking about the starvation, or wearing T-shirts, or going on walk-a-thons, and perhaps writing chèques for small amounts of money to some organization which is probably not very efficient, may not actually channel any of the money to any starving people, and may just sell T-shirts.

Metamemetics to the Rescue!

It’s not so much that people don’t want to help each other, don’t want to respond effectively to tragedy, but we are creatures of memes, beholden to the laws of memes. It’s not so much that we instinctively want to uphold classism, or defend wealth and privilege first and foremost, but that the memes which most immediately lend themselves are those that do precisely that, even at times when we might want to be a better human being. That’s why classism is so entrenched, because the supermemeplexes that comprise it are so large and complex and always have a meme to deploy, one that will resonate well in the given cohort.

Again, any activist effort that attempts to raise awareness is going to run afoul of classist supermemeplexes in one way or another. The idea that once people are made aware of something bad, they resonate with memes about the problem. A term we use is “polarization.” The memetic fabric is polarized[3] with respect to a memeplex when all agents in the cohort that comprise it have some kind of reaction to the memes in the memeplex.

For example, most Americans know that we have a President. Many if not most Americans (would) know who the President of the United States is. Many or most Americans have feelings about the President, or to put it memetically, would deploy some memes or others when subjected to passive or active memetic hacking with respect to the memes associated with the POTUS in general and/or in particular. All of this represents the degree of polarization of the memetic fabric of the citizens of the United States about the President, e.g., is there a strong feeling about how well they are doing, and is that a good or bad feeling, and so on. Contrast this with a scandal at a small regional company or in a State government. Overall there may be few people who’ve even heard of it, and among those who have, there may be little in the way of strong opinion one way or another. In this case, the polarization is low.

I have tried the “T-shirt Experiment” a number of times. I live in Northern Idaho. When I wear my “Hitler Loves Gun Control” shirt, I get a lot of strong positive and outwardly vocal reactions in support of the shirt. There is social blindness, i.e., one tends to see messages with which one identifies, and miss the shirts of people that lack such messages. Memetically there is a certain barrier to remarking on someone else’s T-shirt unless one is relatively confident of some kind of resonance.

The other shirt I’ve worn is my “The Patriarchy Made Me Do It” shirt. I get comparatively few reactions, but I do get some, positive, saying they like what the shirt says. I’ve gotten a couple of negative comments. This suggests that the local fabric is not very polarized around the model of “The Patriarchy.” Not many people know what it is. The little polarization there is seems to be in the negative direction, i.e., that “The Patriarchy” is a somehow silly idea.

The Pat on the Back

If you’re going to solve a problem like hunger, for instance, you’re either going to solve the problem and get no recognition, or get the pat on the back but do nothing to fix the problem, and maybe make it worse. There are two problems: memetic systems are conservative in nature and people like memetic rewards, not solving problems.

If you try to “raise awareness,” you are necessarily piggybacking some new[4] memes on top of a bunch of old ones, probably old classist ones. These old supermemeplexes are very much not about stopping everything for somebody who’s not getting on very well and needs some help. They’ve been doing that, or rather, not doing that, for a very long time.

Success at raising awareness therefore tends to mean that whatever new memes you’ve managed to inject into the old environment are allowing the same old people to do a few new things, say a few new things, wear a few new things, and get memetic orgasms from some of the other infected people.

That brings us to the second point, that people want memetic orgasms, and by providing some fresh new memeplex to do with starvation or something and tying it to a bunch of existing classist memes you’ve provided an expanded new menu.

Matthew 6:1-3

Be careful not to perform your righteous acts before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2So when you give to the needy, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be praised by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,…

Further, one should talk about the memes, and not the actions. This is a metamemetic discussion. Brainstorm about what you want to do, what you want to accomplish, and work out what the memetic dynamics are, how will people react, which memetic deployment opportunities will they perceive? You have to design the action memes you wish to see, e.g., things that actually get food to the starving, before you design the memes to make that happen.


[1] “agents”

[2] Memetic orgasms

[3] Work in still underway about how polarization relates to “apathy.” Apathy may be a kind of immunomemetic response, i.e., apathy may be contagious, i.e., one learns to deploy certain immunomemes associated with apathy about a certain memeplex. This might be termed “active apathy” or just “apathy,” while non-resonance with a given memeplex might be termed something like “ignorance.” More work to be done here.

[4] Actually, probably not so new memes