Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Word on Wednesday - A Real Meme Challenge

I'm amused how the term "meme" has been acquired by the blogging community. I'm not entirely sure how it started to be called a "meme." To bloggers, it seems to mean a questionnaire (or simply a question) passed through the blog-o-sphere in which participants post their answers on their blogs. The questions stay the same, but the answers change, so it's not technically a meme in the traditional sense. Or maybe it is, and it's a metameme...

The traditional meaning of the word is a societal / cultural piece of information that becomes adopted into the mainstream and understood, even if the person was not witness to the origin of the information. I always think of the phrase "Can't we all just get along?" which has been made fun of, but also marked a moment in time in North America where we had to stop and look at the ridiculousness of our behaviour. If you repeat that phrase, most people in North America know what you mean by it, even if they can't remember where it came from.

Other forms memes can take:

("A guy walks into a bar...")
Nursery rhymes ("Jack and Jill went up the hill...")
Children's culture: games, activities and chants typical for different age-groups. I'm amazed that kids in Canada play some of the same hand-chant games I played in Elementary School!

Conspiracy theories
Fashions (tube tops, anyone?)
catch phrases ("Show me the money!")
Group-based biases (racist stereotypes)

Internet slang ("LOL")
Viral marketing ("word of mouth")

The phrase was invented by evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins in the 1970's.
They're like cultural genes, and they can mutate over time. With memes, some ideas will propagate less successfully and die out, while others survive and spread.

Even this is a watered down version of what a meme means, and if interested, read the fascinating history of the idea on Wikipedia.

The reason I'm saying all this is to introduce you to my little social experiment. I've tried this twice before. I've started a word or phrase with someone and tried to see if we could get others to start using it, too. Once, with one friend, we started using the phrase "curb" as in "stop curbing me" or "you're curbing my cool" or "don't be curbing me, girlfriend." We didn't take it too seriously, so it didn't catch on.

Once, when I was teaching high school, my 9th grade English class invented a word called skooz - it didn't really mean anything, just a silly derogatory remark. "What a skooz!" We used it all the time and it only took a few weeks for the other students at the school to start using it. Their enthusiasm waned and it died out.

So... I've always wanted to try this on the Internet, because things can really get passed along around here. I tried to make up a few words, phrases and define them. What I'd like YOU to do, is to 1) use them in your own blogs and LINK back here. 2) use them when commenting in other people's blogs (without saying what it means, pretend its just something everyone says, like "meme"). and 3) IF YOU SEE someone else using it who did not post it here, let me know!

Everyone game? Okay, here they are:

Blixen - A blog vixen. In the traditional sense of the word vixen, though... not someone who's got a sexual appetite, but someone who is shrewish or malicious. This is a person who puts mean comments on other people's blogs. You could shorten it to Blix if you want, especially for a guy. OR, you could even Blix someone. "Man, she totally blixed me on my post about gay rights."

Salad Blog - I thought of this at dinner. It's a light blog. Not meaty, just a fun, non-serious, kind of blog. Nothing political or charged. "What's her blog about?" "Oh, it's a salad blog, you know, about traveling with her kids."

Rudy - This one is in honour of Christmas. Rudolph lights the way, takes the lead, inspires us. So Rudy, is short for a person who does that. "Rhian's quite a Rudy, she's led people to express themselves poetically.

Game on?


Vicki said...

Happy Thanksgiving!!! I can't believe your moving in 10 days. Excited for you and at the same time I know how hard moving is.

Danika / OpenChannel said...

Yup. Considering we just moved into our current place in May... but now it's OUR home, so that's cool.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the U.S. Don't hurt yourselves shopping, either.

Danika / OpenChannel said...

I was surprised no one took me up on my Meme challenge idea... I thought you cats liked to play games?

I'm still going to use the words and see what happens.