Chloe, a girl I used to teach in Kindergarten. Taken during the Christmas concert on the 22nd of January 2007 with a Nikon D200 and a 18-35mm lens. Part of the Christmas Concert Series.
Since I have extremely interested in memetics, I have opened a keen eye to the way that the children interact with each other, and what influences them. Most importantly, I have watched to see memes transmitted from one child’s mind to another quite easily.
I have noted quite a few instances of this happening. For the time being, I will just recount my experiences without doing any analysis on them, since I am only the 1st part of my study.
A child’s mind to me is still forming and evolving. They are very beautiful in their directness and the way that they work. They are a perfect medium for viral memes. Depending on the child, the ideas will stick and be transmitted to other children easily, through the simplest of ways.
Case 1: Religion Propagated By A Meme
One of the first cases of this happening was about a little girl called Chloe. (All names are fictional). She was a very religious little girl, and from time to time, talked to other children and teachers about her love for Jesus. She prayed daily and thought it was a very important thing in her life. She usually prayed before eating her meals. Slowly, a few of the other children started praying before their meals as well.
In the most stupefying part of this episode, a teacher had forgotten his key to the classroom. He said he would go downstairs to get it. The girl asked him to wait, maybe if they prayed hard enough, the door would open by the hand of God. They tried and failed, but this is a clear and definite example of this type of phenomenon. A child, firm in her beliefs, influencing the other children to do the same as she does.
And why not?
Maybe if one child thinks it is so important, it might be as important to other children as well.
Does this explain things that we deal with in adult life?
Fanatics are once such case where such insights can and could provide a lot of clues. How does a sane, normal man suddenly become part of a terrorist cell and is prepared to martyr himself for a cause? What are the factors that form this type of situation, enabling the agents of the meme to target and influence their targets?
Are fanatics brainwashed? Do the memes that have infected their minds take hold and unlike other people, never leave their minds? Do they become obsessed and consumed by them, to the point of being ready to relinquish their lives for them?
How do you profile fanatics like this? Are their ways to counter these memes with counter-memes?
In one of my favorite novels (I have a lot of favorite novels), Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, the author examines in a cyberpunk setting how language based memes can exist and the theories behind them. Naturally, since they are in a science-fiction setting, they have extraordinary reasons for their existence. Still, memetics is a new field of study that is extraordinarily important in a lot of fields of study, from information technology to marketing.