Have you ever come across any of these recently on the Internet Grumpy cats rickrolls lolcats self deprecating potatoes and an adorable grandma who stares with bewilderment onto the screen of a laptop Your daily dose of social media escapade is probably incomplete without stumbling across some form of Internet meme They usually come to you in the form of a captioned photo a GIF or more rarely a video ripe with content that puts a smile on your face lets you think about ironies of human behaviours and sometimes makes you reflects on life philosophically Memes have gone from a word which most people weren't sure that it's not made up to a bewitching lure that keeps people awake at night scrolling through Facebook After all what is losing a few hours of sleep compared to getting a taste of dank new memes But did you know that the word meme has been around for quite some time It has been around longer than the Internet That's right you read right the first time Memes can exist outside its more vivacious Internet form The Internet was nonexistent when meme is first coined by a British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins as an anthropological concept in his 1976 book
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The Selfish Gene In his book Dawkins came up with the idea that a meme is like a gene of cultural information Basically it is an idea or social behavior that gets spread without any actual involvement of genes An excellent example of the spreading of meme is this article It is telling you about information on memes which means that it is spreading that idea right now as you read on To make things more interesting Dawkins also hypothesise that memes has as much influence on evolution as genes A basic understanding of simple biology tells us that genes are sets of instruction residing inside our DNA And with different combinations of these instructions you could ended up with luscious hair to having a tail growing out of your backside Up to 99 5 of genes are the same for every human being These are the ones that tell your cells that you are a human being and not a potato The remainder 0 5 are what makes you unique They make you different from me and me different from Mike Tyson Charles Darwin s grand idea of evolution is that it is driven by natural selection of genes Genes that help you survive and survive long enough to make babies gets passed on Genes that reduce your chances to do that will eventually just die off However if we were to apply this idea onto humans there is one thing about us that don't make sense our super heavyweight class of a brain Somehow along the history of human evolution our genes decided to make our brains the largest one of all vertebrates relative to body size This enables us to be by far the most intelligent species on Earth From a genetic standpoint your ability to appreciate art of any forms is beyond useless in helping you survive and my capacity to wonder ceaselessly on how to use the
Force is definitely not going to help my chances with the ladies and get me laid at all We can in fact be way stupider without hurting our chances to stay alive and make babies If anything having a smaller brain could help us pass on our genes more effectively A human baby is oftenly born with a relatively big head sometimes causing childbirth complications which endangers both the lives of mother and baby If we have smaller brains hence smaller heads there will be more surviving babies More surviving babies equal a larger pool of surviving genes So here lies the golden question Why are our brains so ridiculously big It turns out that we are evolved to not only spread genes But also to spread memes When Dawkins said that a meme is like a gene he meant just that literally Memes carry information just like how genes are the bearers of genetic information While genes compete with one another to be passed on as there is limited room in our DNA memes compete with other memes because we humans have only have that much of an attention span Since the success of a gene can be measured by how much it helps us to survive you might think that should not only memes that achieve the same get passed on Well you can observe some truth to this if you look into the history of homo sapiens Flashing back to 2 5 million years ago our cavemen ancestors were busy coming up with a steady stream of dank new memes like making fire cooking with fire fire keep men warm in the winter and don't stick your hands in the fire These brilliant first men made memes definitely have given anyone smart enough to use them an edge for not dying And in return these successful memes have flourished and spread to the entire population of the human species What makes memetic evolution so important is that genetic evolution takes forever
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