17. Meme collectors and meme creators ------------------------------------- Previous - Next - Contents

Memes (as I explained earlier and as defined by Richard Dawkins) are small segments of human culture like thoughts, ideas, creations, etc. created by man. "Culture" is here defined as in its absolute broadest sense, being anything which is man constructed, man thought, man influenced, man discovered, etc.

So for example a natural tree in an (by man) undisturbed landscape, by itself is of course not part of human culture. But the fact that we call it and know as a "tree", or "boom" or "arbre" is part of human culture. The three names of course represent three different sub cultures, one English, one Dutch and one French. The fact that we know how to determine the tree's age, is also part of human culture and so is our understanding of the tree's "breathing" process (osmosis) which converts CO2 into carbon (C) and oxygen (O2), etc. etc.

Human culture is therefore like a multi-dimensional, multi-layered jigsaw puzzle of interlocking and overlapping memes. Some memes live only for a short period of time, others can go on for centuries, even millennia.
As individual human beings we deal with memes in three different ways.

  1. some memes we learn or absorb and use

  2. some memes we make (create) ourselves

  3. and some memes we pass on to others

Depending on one's nature, education, type of job, inclination, etc. each individual deals with memes in a combination of the above three ways. The mixture of these three ways may be different from one person to the next. There are two types of individuals however which I consider to be at extreme and opposite ends of the whole spectrum. I will call them here meme seekers and memers.

Meme seekers are people who are almost obsessive about collecting memes. They absorb them whenever possible every day through the Internet, papers, books, study, etc. They are usually also good at remembering them and as such are also great meme keepers and meme distributors passing their acquired knowledge on to others.
My son in law Doug is a good example of a very successful meme seeker.

Memers on the other hand are almost the total opposite of meme seekers. Memers collect existing memes often with some reluctance and only when they consider it absolutely essential. Their memes memory is also usually not so good and they tend to forget them rather quickly, unless they write the meme down.
Memers are however obsessive meme creators. Day in day out their mind never ever stops in this regard. Even in the middle of listening to someone else, they absorb a single fact from the speaker and off their mind goes creating a new meme (idea) from it.
I myself am a typical memer and so is my daughter Babette.

Looking at my daughter and her partner it is clear that a memer - meme seeker combination can work well. After all these two types complement each other beautifully. They both share a passion for memes, but view them from rather different perspectives.

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Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner