The way culture works

What is more powerful than an idea?

Ideas compel us to do unspeakable horrors and elevate us to something larger than life. Ideas are what lead people to fight a crusade and to stand in front of a tank. A human can die but an idea can spread long after someone has passed.

The study of memetics is the idea that organic evolution is based on the replication of organic information. We call these genes. The culture follows a similar pattern where replication of cultural information is spread through memes. Simply put, you can observe a behavior and then copy it. The stickier the idea is the better it can spread throughout the culture. Like a virus. How else do you explain why Gangnam Style can go viral and why we follow traffic laws? The culture is a collection of these successful memes that influence our behaviors.

There is a reason why you show up to a job interview looking your best. You didn’t choose what you really wanted to wear, you chose what they wanted to see.

The question then is: Does the status quo actually benefit people? The way things are done, is this really the best we can imagine? How do we really know if the culture we have built actually benefits people? Is a 40-hour work week really the best way to organize our lives? Is sending our children to 12 years of school the best way to educate a population? Is this language we speak the optimal way to communicate? What about capitalism? No one wants to go back to the way things were but we are simultaneously destroying our planet–what do we do?

All interesting questions without correct answers.