Ice Cold Water or; what’s in a Meme?

Ice Cold Water or; what’s in a Meme?
Do you get it? ‘ey, ‘ey, ‘ey?

I decided it’s again time for a little humour at the water cooler.  Googling as I’m wont to do, I happened upon the above humorous meme. What’s a meme you ask? Well, before you think I’m becoming all teachery on you, I didn’t know what the term meant until I hauled myself up by my suspenders and eddicated myself.

A meme is ‘an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture’.  A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

The word meme is a shortening (modelled on gene) of mimeme from the Ancient Greek mīmēma, (‘imitated thing’, ‘to imitate’, ‘to mime’) coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.

And here I was thinking it was just a term coined from pop culture!  Even before I knew what memes were, I loved them – to me they are a perfect and succinct manner in which to get humour across – an image and a few lines of text: Message Delivered,  thanks for playing – boing!

So, before your next trip to hydration central (i.e. the water cooler) have a look for a selection of the latest memes and take them with you – you’re sure to get a laugh. Just remember though, to perform an internal sensitivity test before you show them to all and sundry – you may find blue language accompanied by a bizarre image to be humorous, but your colleagues may not. Rule of thumb – stick to the images of serious babies and toddlers accompanied by some wise saying – that’s sure to raise a few chuckles.


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