2021 Trend Almanac: Technologies and trends that will dominate the business and consumer landscape. Get instant access
Memetics is the study of memes, be they phrases, behaviors, or any idea that is transferred from person to person. What is typically thought of as a "meme" today is an internet meme. Memes in general are simply popular thoughts and ideas that drive culture change. A meme, in this way, is sometimes called a thought contagion or a virus of the mind, not unlike an "ear worm" or song that gets stuck in your head.
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins introduced the term "meme" as a transmittable piece of cultural information. Similar to the way genes pass through parents to their children, as people share these bits of cultural information, they are replicated and further distributed until ultimately becoming a cultural phenomenon. Memetic evolution involves meme replication and distribution often through cultural transmission. For example, a man may share the story of his latest dream about a rocking chair amongst friends. Those friends then share that dream with their families, each interpreting the story a bit differently. The family members then spread their versions of the information across their social media pages, school groups, office teams, and such. Soon, the whole town is talking about their version of the rocking chair dream and it inspires local cafes to start putting rocking chairs on their patios for guests. Suddenly, the town is full of rocking chairs and this town's niche was created by the sharing of a single idea, or "meme".
This utilization of an evolutionary model to understand how information is interpreted and shared between people and throughout cultures is a further study into the human brain and its effect on cultural evolution. Understanding the complex system of the human mind and how it values information is beneficial for any customer-facing organization.
What value can businesses draw from Memetics?