The Death of a Meme

Part 1 of a very disconnected study on Memetics

I’m going to get topical here. The USA elections happened this week. My social media feed has been some mixture of terrified, shocked, and angry. Unrelated to that, I’ve been working on this piece for a few weeks; a discussion on the death of human organisations. With the talk of world changing wars and the end of countries, it became very relevant.
Political parties, governments, religions, and any other organizations created by humans, are all larger memetic structures. A Memeplex. Studying the lifespan of these organisms can help us understand what is going on in the larger picture. There are two methods to learn about them, a sorta micro and macro approach. Macro would be viewing history through the lens of Memetics and seeing what traits and tactics are successful. Micro is studying human psychology and how it influences these larger structures. I’m taking the latter approach today.

The Loop of human consciousness spirals in or out over time. This is magnified in a memeplex. The extreme fringe elements of any organization will gain greater and greater dominance as the memeplex ages. Conversely, the opposite may happen. Traits which originally rendered the memeplex unique will fade. It becomes a bland, grey husk of what it once was. This is the spiral out and the spiral in. The manic and the depressive. One of these two mental states will mark the end of an organism.

This magnification means the cycles of revolution are a necessary feature of a memetic creature. When humans combine their minds it creates something unstable. Like an atomic nucleus, the balance of internal and external forces get out of whack. It creates a half-life for any memeplex. Hell, the long term stability of the human mind is questionable. Put them together and you get some monstrosity that will gravitate to an extreme. An extreme that will eventually kill it.

There’s a tendency to see memeplexes as permanent structures. They live past our own lifespans so we see them as immortal. From the perspective of a standard human, it makes sense. The apparent immortal is simply that which outlasts us. Governments, religious institutions, corporations.

When a memeplex is new, it’s quickly forced to deal with an ultimatum; to adapt or die. A majority end up with the latter. They refuse to change, relegating themselves to death by obscurity. The rest run the risk of losing any sense of their own identity through too rapid change. Only a small proportion can survive to maturity.

A Memeplex that reaches maturity is ones that has fully outlived its first generation of hosts. These are what seem like givens in our lives, the Apparent Immortal. They are not. In reality, they have a ticking time bomb inside them.
Insanity will kill them.


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