The culture is made of a set of ideas that dictate how we behave.
The meme is essentially an idea that is replicated and passed from one person to another.
In other words, memes are like an idea virus. Ideas that spread from one person to the next, infecting the host it comes in contact with and causing a change in behavior.
Some memes are stickier than others. Memes have a way of reaching a tipping point that pushes the culture one way or another.
For better or for worse.
The question is, How do sticky memes resist change as they replicate?
Because no idea is ever perfectly transferred from one person to another. We hear what we want to hear. We see what we want to see. We add our own personal bias to any information that we receive.
So, how is this possible?
And when memes do change, how then, can we make them change for the better?
Better knowledge leads to better explanations.
So, take for example the Momo Challenge (Wikipedia link without an image here) that has plagued the culture these last few years.
It turns out that meme was just one giant hoax. An urban legend. A bad idea that spread from person to the next. Until finally, a Kardashian tweeted about it and then you had a tipping point.
What made it dangerous wasn’t the challenge itself. What made it dangerous was that we couldn’t stop talking about it. Which made it a global phenomenon. Which drove more people to look at it.
The message is clear. We need to do a better job to know our memes.
Once we discovered there were these invincible carnivorous entities called germs that could be combated by simply rubbing our hands together underwater, it drove us to wash our hands.
That is a meme we should embrace.
We need more hand washing in our social media-driven culture. And we shouldn’t take 20 years to adopt this practice either.