Join a memeplex to spread ideas

The idea of the ‘meme’, introduced by Dawkins and derided by others as not scientific, attempts to offer some explanation about how ideas spread through a culture. Although the rules for transmission haven’t been fully understood yet, Deutsch says, “new ideas have to provide ‘good explanations’ for phenomena”, which means that for memes to spread the idea embodied by the meme has to make sense. It needs to be relevant, appropriate, acceptable, at least to some people, in order to spread. Random and nonsensical ideas don’t spread. Ideas that seem random and nonsensical to some people spread with others because they become part of a ‘memeplex’.

A memeplex occurs where a number of compatible memes join together in mutually supportive ways. New ideas piggy-back on well established ideas, memes come together to change each other, some memes replace others. Memes have a hard time on their own. Where we’ve seen new memes become well-established it is because they have had a strong association with a set of already well-established memes. Having an understanding of how ideas spread is a fundamental skill for the digital age. It helps us make choices about adopting ideas for ourselves based on the value of the idea rather than its association with other ideas we accept.