The internet is often described with the metaphor of a virus. Indeed, many of the concepts in biology apply to society. Biological evolution is defined as changes in gene frequency and you could define societal evolution as changes in meme frequency. The internet is to society what dog breeding is to evolution: it accelerates the process and yields all kinds of wacky and ultimately useless results. That’s why I hate internet memes as much as I hate lap dogs.
Internet memes are low-quality content that persists and spreads because it is easily understood by huge populations and it’s easy to share. That’s why we get endless silly pictures of cats and other animals. Like genes, the only thing that determines the success of a meme is its ability to self replicate, not its actual value.
But people are fighting back! There’s a new meme called Actual Advice Mallard that features a picture of a mallard and text containing actual advice. Seems pretty simple right? Wrong. This is brilliant! There’s all kinds of actual advice on the internet. Why are memes shared on facebook while quality articles are not? Because they appeal to a common humanity. The Actual Advice Mallard cleverly appeals to the popular feeling that memes are stupid. What utter genius. Using the virus’ own pathways to inject real information into the internet.
In biological terms, this meme is like a vaccination. It’s a modified version of the virus (meme) that uses our own immune system (instincts and love of memes) to protect us against the effects of the real viruses (stupidity caused by over-exposure to internet memes).
If ever there was a meme to share, this is the one.