Word of the day: meme

MEME

Does anyone know what this word means? It’s such a hard concept to grasp.

I read the introduction of a Wikipedia entry on it and I got confused so I stopped. I read about Internet memes, which I think I understand. And I found a useful definition at Dictionary.com.

– “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.”

Wikipedia says, “The word is a blend of ‘gene’ and the Greek word μιμητισμός (mimetismos, [mimetisˈmos]) for ‘something imitated’.”

The term was coined by British Scientist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene.” His examples included melodies, catch-phrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.

I suppose when it comes to fashion, a meme could be a fad of wearing leg warmers. It was popular in the late 1980s but the meme has reappeared through hosts like Rhianna and Lindsay Lohan, who helped aid the return of leg warmers a few years ago.

More importantly, I meme is a “unit for carrying cultural ideas symbols or practices,” as Wikipedia puts it. This unit can be transmitted from person to person through various forms of communication, like writing or even YouTube videos.

Here’s what is written on Squidoo.com about memes:

An internet phenomenon or a meme is an image, video, phrase or simply an idea that spreads from one person to another seemingly for no logical reason at all. When people see a meme, no matter how silly it usually is, they find it amusing for one reason or other and forward it to their friends; soon millions of people know about it thanks to how fast the information can spread online and the viral effect.

Squidoo claims the top internet memes include LOLcats and the O RLY? owl.

Do you have more examples? Perhaps some that aren’t internet related?

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