Re: Emotional memes?

Dale Fletter (
Wed, 26 Aug 1998 13:21:45 -0700

Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 13:21:45 -0700
From: Dale Fletter <>
Subject: Re: Emotional memes?

This post might be splitting hairs, but I am hoping this is the place to
do it if it is to be done at all.

I think it is improper to characterize a meme as emotional or spreading
emotion. It sounds like calling yeast alcohol generators. While it is an
important function of the object to us, it is of no central importance to
the object; alcohol is merely its waste product. A meme does not have the
power to generate a given emotion in us; we must be in a receptive state.
No matter how good the joke is, the 1,000th time the meme passes over me,
it will generate no humor. Likewise, the good-feelings meme spread by the
NYT employee depends upon the good feelings it generates in us to be
passed from person to person but will not do so universally since some
will not be receptive to feeling good at the moment the meme hits.

Calling it an emotional meme also suggests that creating the emotion is
the objective. Whether this meme is some sort of elaborate code that
contains a message that the bus driver is delivering to another person, a
message introduced by some more omniscient creature for either human or
extra-terrestrial benefit or merely some chaotic event that crosses the
heavily interconnected web of human communication is something we can
only debate at this time. Personally, I want to believe that people like
him are modern day saints who choose to maintain their optimistic
attitude to life and that the positive energy that creates ripples like
waves across humanity.

> (prior post, snipped almost to death)
> "Hi! How you doing?"
> ... a slow, rather magical transformation occurred. ...By the time
> people got off the bus, each in turn
> had shaken off the sullen shell they had entered with, and when
> the driver shouted out a "So long, have a great day!" each gave
> a smiling response.
> ...
> wizardlike in his power to transmute the sullen irritability
> that seethed in his passengers, to soften and open their hearts
> a bit.

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