A meme is an idea or nugget of information that can be replicated in your own mind and shared with others through viral spreading. An emerging meme, having burst on the scene and established itself as the new norm, now becomes the reference point from which cultures and corporations start their thought processes in relation to that issue and from which they are prodded to take action.
In French the word meme means ‘same’. So it helps us understand that the concept of meme deals with getting alignment of new thought among the masses so they all think the same way., at least until the next meme pops on the scene. So there’s an inter-weaving between seminal moments in time where a meme enters human consciousness and the subsequent flow and viral spread of a meme.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Small business grew into big business from its ability to offer many jobs and offer a desirable product or service to the masses. That was considered a good thing until the corporate system squeezed out the little guys and became mechanized through cost-benefit market efficiencies. The meme shifted. Now Big Business was decried for its inhumanity, which eventually bred a meme for CSR- Corporate Social Responsibility- which was born to be able to re-humanize corporate structures and activities for both insiders and those affected by the reach of the organization. This has now evolved into a new field of Corporate Virtue and Ethics as a base from which strategic decisions are made and new reach is sought in the name of doing good. And so it evolves over time.
By the way, the meme itself comes with no value judgment; it exists to replicate and perpetuate itself. It is we humans who latch on to new memes and manage the change by adding our labels, values, rationales and justifications to a meme. This then allows and, indeed, invites us to practice ‘creative infidelity’ by looking and acting in new novel ways as we seek to stay up to date in the modern world. Over time, as many people accept the meme and it becomes embedded in society, that becomes part of the acceptable cultural tradition.
Memes do happen naturally as cultures and ideas bump up against each other; with outcomes unknown. I believe you can, however, harness the power of your mind and use creativity tools to stimulate and leverage meme generation. This process has been used in history by people who wanted to wield power or make a difference, on any level of influence, for good or evil.