Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Memeering, Self-Profiling and 2012

In discussions of memes and memeering (the art and science of trying to channel social mood in a certain direction desired by, for instance, advertisers, corporations or governments) we've thrown out mention of the many "spontaneous" emails that tend to get forwarded around by our friends who are fired up about some government or corporate policy. I'd like to discuss a possible motivation behind these emails and the associated links in the context of memes and socionomics.

For a review of memes, you can check out the video below:

One way to view memeering is to divide this art into two types - weak and strong.

Weak Memeering

I view this as category as covering everything from ads for Coca-Cola to normal political campaigns to radio jingles.

Usually they are harmless, in the main - though any parent who has to pay for dental bills for their kids who guzzle soda drinks might disagree with that.

That song you can't get out of your head, the one selling sandwiches or trucks - that's a vehicle used to spread a meme. I remember a particularly vicious meme from my time living in South Carolina in the mid-1990's. The Little Cricket convenience store chain rolled out a jingle for their stores that to this day will get stuck in my head and results in me driving around humming about wanting "... a sandwich or a twinkie, or something cold to drinky..." which can be annoying to say the least.

Others are internet ephemera - a funny idea or hook that spawns a cascade of repetition or encourages you to share the meme with others, such as the All Your Base Are Belong To Us meme:

There are more pernicious uses for Weak Memeering. One is character assassination techniques. Examples include the "Obama is a closet Muslim raised in an extermist madrassa in Indonesia" or the "Libertarians are militia terrorists" meme currently being pimped out.

George Ure takes up another, far more worrisome type of weak memeering being propagated today - the use of inflammatory video or text "hooks" to draw in people interested in a topic for use by various organizations - law enforcement or other - to build up a profile and have you do all the work. George describes it as:

...Well, what’s a low-cost way to find out who is what kind of potential threat to your paradigm? I’ll show you how it works, step-by-step so you ‘get it’.

It begins with a government setting up a web site with an emotionally charged video about something like ‘black powder’ or ‘inter-racial relations’.

Then a series of postings is put out on the net in places where such a video would likely get a lot of attention. Say, in a ‘black powder’ kind of video they will post something emotionally compelling to a bunch of gun web sites and discussion groups.

Next, when someone goes to the web site involved, it’s a simple matter for the site to log your internet protocol address. Skeptical? go to www.whatismyip.com and your ‘net address comes up.

Congratulations! You have just gotten yourself into a government database of people who have an ‘interest in black powder’.

George goes into a good bit of detail on this subject. It is worth your time to ponder it.

Weak memeering, in my opinion of it, tinkers around the edges of the socionomic waves that engulf us all. It tries to harness the little eddies and currents and develop as part of the big trend in society. When mood is swinging in a positive direction, weak memeering helps retailers sell short skirts and highly caffeinated drinks. When mood swings towards a negative direction, weak memeering helps political agitators sell protests and government bureaucrats to sell crackdowns.

Strong Memeering

Then there are the rare times when a group or groupss try to hijack a major socionomic wave and steer it in a direction beneficial to their interests - or at least divert the expression of that wave into something that will not damage their interests too badly in the case of a swing to negative mood.

Now, this is just one guy's thought experiment here. I'm taking what I regard as some of the implications of socionomics and extrapolating from it. I don't think that these groups - be they hierarchical organizations like political parties or "affinity groups" like a dispersed array of groups that share similar goals - can change the direction of socionomic waves.

From my reading of history, societies and peoples are driven by mass mood and attempts to fight those waves of mood are futile. That said, ocean waves can be diverted using sea walls and groups that are interested in controlling what you think and what you do would do their utmost to build sea walls in your mind to control how you express your tiny piece of the great waves of emotion and mood that sweep societies along.

I regard major political movements to be expressions of a group or groups trying to use a dominant wave of social mood to express itself in a manner they want, using language to shape how that wave will play out over time.

Usually the control groups use the tools of weak memeering, but with a tight focus on the message. For instance, the following memes have driven millions to change their lifestyles radically in service to the meme, to kill for them, to die for them:

  • "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
  • Deutscheland Uber Alles
  • Workers of the World Unite, You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Chains
  • Tune in, Turn on, Drop out
  • We Shall Overcome

It is my belief that we are caught in the middle of a meme-war right now. Various groups are trying to harness this negative mood that swirls about us. Other groups are trying to fight the wave and bring back the mindset of the dead era delusional optimism. Others are just confused and wondering why the old ways don't seem to work anymore.

As this downturn in mood should prove to be enormous (going off the projections provided by Elliott Wave International and from just looking around at the massive imbalances and delusions that must be corrected), we need to be prepared for enormously powerful memes to sweep through society.

My Candidate for Strong Memeering

I think that the battle for your mind will get very intense over the course of this year. Much of what will be served up for your consumption will be warmed-over and trite appeals to a mindset that began dying in 2000. Techno-optimism will come under assault from Magical Thinking, the nation-state from Xenophobic and Secessionist tendencies and the art that is used to provide color in our lives will turn bleak and angry.

My #1 candidate for a strong, apocalyptic meme that could come to dominate the mindspace of society is the 2012 meme. I touched briefly on this topic back in 2007 in a post entitled 2000 Days.

My rationale for nominating the 2012 meme as potential major player in society's mindspace includes:

  • Many affinity groups have an interest in promoting an apocalyptic agenda. When many groups within society are poor and oppressed with no chance of improvement, are virtual debt slaves to the government or to big banks, or have no job or wage growth prospects, then the hope for an event that wipes the slate clean could grow strong
  • Some control groups might see the 2012 meme as a way to steer the anger that is developing in society towards individual self-destruction or apathy, unofficially of course. But if you were a member of the wealthy elites and had even a slight chance of turning a bunch of potentially vicious and angry rioters into apathetic or even suicidal drones in the face some unstoppable, world-ending calamity that no one can change - you might fund memeering agents to help pimp out that kind of mindset.
  • The 2012 meme has its source in a non-Western tradition, which plays directly into the social impulse to reject that which was built up during the huge wave of optimism that we are now exiting.

Please do keep an eye out on references to 2012, like a good scientist studying a rapidly mutating virus. Keep an eye out for common themes to appear in official and unofficial news sources. Apocalyptic memes are nothing new in the world - both Western and Eastern societies have had their share of them. Watch its spread - or lack thereof - and prepare accordingly.

1 comment:

David said...

Totally with you on the 2012 thing. It's tailor-made for for a social mood decline that is not likely to bottom before that.

I've told any number of acquaintances that the "end of the world" thinking is likely to amplify dramatically because, if the market and economy (and political and social trends) follow the projected course, it sure will seem like the world is ending.

The beleif that it's "game over" will of course peak at the nadir of social mood.

The real question you may wish to explore is, What kind of war will occur at that point? We know that wars always break out near the end of c waves of Cycle degree or higher, and this is a c within a Supercycle (a) decline, something that even WWII didn't have "going" for it.

It scares the living hell out of me. Does this make me a believer in the "end of world" meme?

Adding to that, what "pro war" groups will be trying to use this meme to effect their ends? This is something to which we should be especially vigilant. Such all-encompassing organized violence is best viewed from as great a distance as possible, and finding an oasis of relative safety strikes me as a major challenge.