What’s the Meme about?


This is another one of those words that pop up occasionally on Twitter and in blog posts and the like, something that you might not understand if you haven’t studied human behaivor.

What is a Meme?

In short it’s an idea, a behaivor, a style that expands over a society or culture. It’s a trend. You can get more indepth here

If you’re still not sure about Memes (or don’t want to read that kinda dry Wiki entry) a prime example is FaceBook. You have probably seen links or ads or silly sayings, quotes or photos while scrolling through your feed. When something gets reshared by you or others, and they reshare and reshare it again, they have created a Meme. Even as short lived as those reposts are, the act of copying the link or image is a Meme. In fact, the act of copying not even a specific item but the act of copying in itself is a Meme.

YouTube is another example. Videos going “viral” is just another term for a Meme. When an author Tweets with a link to their book, they’re hoping to create a Meme.

How to make Memes work for you.

I realize that many of my examples are for social media but as a writer using Memes is really quite important. Especially when creating a world or society. This is an aspect I think gets overlooked a lot of the time when we’re busy building cities and empires and creatures. It’s something important I think we need to ask ourselves:

What social trends have occured -or are occuing – that shape my character/city/world?

And these not be technical like in my examples, clothing, speech, design, these are all things that are driven in part by Memes. Where I live we can see Meme in the size and style of houses in urban areas. The small, square “ranches” of the 80’s, the “Florida” house of the 90’s, the much larger sprawl that marks the housing boom of the early 2000’s. Even car companies use the economic Meme to determine car colors. Nearly everything is influenced by Memes.

Even in history we see the abundance of Memes so far back as the Stone Age when that first gal (or guy) picked up a rock and used it as a tool, that caught into a trend that blasted humans forward in evolution. It wasn’t that each hominin picked up a similar shaped rock and used it in a similar way at the exact same time without influence, nope, a Meme was created and BAM! Memes can be powerful things.

Knowing the social background of the setting your characters are in can be a helpful resource to determine how the character will react or what is available for them in the world. Even placing a character in the near distant future will be a future that has been determined by whatever Memes have occured between now and then, short or long lived.

What trends in agriculture, technology, fashion, TV will have passed that shape the world in which they live?

Creating a believable world, one in which Memes exist, is a vital part to getting your readers interested and willing to accept the rules you’ve created in your work.

Now for my ROW80 update

– I started the Paleo-centered blog and made three posts already! Go me!

– I’ve replied to 16 fellow ROWers last Sunday, well above my goal

– Now  that I’m feeling better I’ve lifted weights once this week and bought a Yoga dvd that has 20 minute sessions (I think I can handle 20 minutes at a time).

The goals are going well though I do need to sit down and write more Faylinn I hope to get another installment out by the end of the week, it’s been almost 2 weeks since the last one (oops).

How are things going for you? What do you think about Memes in writing? Have you used them before? Conciously or without knowing it?


13 responses »

  1. Great work on your goals! I hope you get your new installment written.

    For good or ill, my interactions online frequently consist of memes, movie quotes, TV quotes, bits of things I read on the back of a bus ticket fifteen years ago… it’s problematic. My fiction is frequently the same way, although I tend to set my fiction in environments where I can’t quote pop culture.

  2. The only memes I’ve ever seen have been when someone posts something like “10 things about me” and then they challenge others to do the same. I saw that a LOT when I was on Livejournal.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better and getting some exercise in. 🙂

    I can’t wait until the next Faylinn installment.

    • Anything that is a trend and influences others is a Meme in it’s most literal scientific term.

      Thanks for checking out the blog!

  3. This was a great, informative post. I enjoyed your explanation of memes and the questions you posed to us about how/when/why/ we use them and their effectiveness. I’ll be linking back to this post on Sunday! Hope you have a great weekend.

    • oh thats awesome thanks for sharing those links! I just got done reading Queen of the Orcs by Morgan Howell and he uses a meme, it’s super brief, just one line about how it’s fashionable in this one distant area for women to blacken their teeth. This sets off one of the characters to dissend from the culture where he is to accept things the others won’t. He’s more open-minded because of being exposed to this meme. That ONE LINE affects a character so deeply that it changes the entire course of the book.

  4. Pingback: Limiting Imagination « The Outlandish Avocado

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