Friday, January 27, 2012

Internet Memes, or Why We are Moving Towards Comfortably Dumb

If you have spent any significant part of last year wasting time on the internet, you will probably know what these images mean:
The concept of meme, introduced, I believe, by Richard Dawkins, means an idea that replicates itself in the minds of other brains and spreads very quickly. The Internet memes, aided by the invisible superpowers of the net, have lit up its unproductive nooks like a forest fire. You can understand their almost addictive appeal- they don’t need you to do any thinking, any idea that can be described has a template of images to describe it in, the celebration is not of the new and the unique, but of the comfortable herd.
It’s not just the internet and not just the memes, anywhere you look you see a gradual dumbing down. The TV channels that used to show music ten years ago now show young people having cussing contests. The newspapers that once gloried in brilliant editorials today have nipple expose scandals as front page news.
I realize how judgmental these words sound, but that is not their intention. Being dumb is not per se bad; it may even have become a requirement. What if we have gotten as wise as is evolutionarily feasible, and now if we get any wiser we’ll be jiving our way to extinction like lemmings. Perhaps a herd mentality and a low intellect are precisely what are needed for humankind to continue thriving? It will certainly bring down suicide rates, destructiveness, wars, and all other dark spawns of deep thought. It makes me think of the dual society in HG Wells’ Time Machine. But no doubt its better for people to watch Roadies or browse 9gag for hours rather than plot murder, mayhem and/or self harm.
Hello everybody. Sorry for this pathetically bad piece of writing. I haven’t written in years and I am creaky. But I plan to write regularly, hopefully daily now, show I might be able to shed off the years of gathered mucus.
Thanks, all.

Amritorupa Kanjilal also writes at Rivers I Have Known: Books, Reviews, and More. Please visit her there!