For some time now, it has fascinated me how everyone can get so hyped up about something on the internet, sharing it with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, even in real life during conversations, then forget about the subject some months later. Things that spread from person to person within (and sometimes across) cultures are called memes. In this post I specifically refer to “moral memes” (a phrase I just coined on the spot, not sure if anyone has written something similar before). Let me explain what I mean when I say moral memes.
Earlier this year, the Kony 2012 campaign was an example of a moral meme. Everyone (and when I say “everyone” I mean almost everyone) was sharing the video, making it viral. Everyone seemed concerned about the issue, everyone wanted to help. But nowadays nearly anybody talks about it anymore. It’s forgotten. It was, I presume, just a phase. Now, I’m not criticizing anyone. I am only looking at the thing as a natural phenomenon. It does not matter whether people genuinely wanted to bring awareness and help stop Kony. The point I am trying to make is that the issue was lost in time.
Today, we have another moral meme, Amanda Todd. Again, I am not criticizing anyone, nor am I giving my personal opinion on the issue (although I will say this: bullying in not a laughing matter, especially when it drives a person to suicide). Yet, somehow I feel that this is just another phase. In a few months people will forget all about her. She, too, will be lost in time. And shortly after that there will be another phase, another moral meme, which in due time, it, too, will be forgotten. Do you guys see the cycle?
Why? What causes this?
Maybe the answer lies in the psychology literature, but I haven’t had time to do research. Am I the only one who has thought of this before? Am I the only one who is fascinated and intrigued as to why people participant in such moral memes? Self-righteousness? To be part of a trend? Or is it genuine concern? If the answer is genuine concern, when why is it only a phase? Why is the entire matter forgotten and later buried with the passing of time?
I want to know what you guys think on the matter of moral memes. (This post is comment enabled using disqus).