Saturday, July 28, 2012

Whatever Do You Meme?

Personally, I am getting a little tired of the memes. 

Not sure what a meme is? If you’ve seen a picture of a famous person with a quote next to it that was intended to represent someone’s entire opinion on a highly complicated political or social issue, you’ve seen a meme. Or, if you’ve seen two pictures of Glenn Close, side by side, where one has a cigar Photoshopped in and the slogan: “Glenn Close/Glenn Close, But No Cigar”, you’ve also seen a meme. Early chain letters are a form of memes; commonly misquoted facts or information are, in a sense, also a type of meme.

 Memes are defined as an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. There is a study devoted to memes (memetics), with origins and connections to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who, has himself been the featured subject of a meme or two. 
The current picture/quote incarnation of memes seem to be bent on replacing actual conversation on the Internet. I engage in political discussions/arguments on line (more often than I should), and frequently, rather than taking the time to type out their thoughts or opinion, people will find a picture of someone famous that has some attractive slogan that agrees with their basic sentiments on it, and post that.

It’s one of the more irritating aspects of the Internet these days. “I realize you have a well-reasoned argument, facts out the wazoo and the ability to type your thoughts in a persuasive manner, but I have a picture of Lorne Greene cuddling a baby deer with a line from “Battlestar Galactica” next to it that sums up my side, so, suck it, Word-Boy.”

I’m not entirely opposed to memes: I have actually written and circulated several, with minor “success”. But they were, in my opinion, carefully thought out and based on easily proven facts. A well-crafted meme can stimulate conversation and possibly educate or illuminate another facet of a complicated issue. In one case, I created a meme to counteract the fallacies of someone else’s – in a sense, fighting meme with meme.

Those coming up with memes vie for the greatest honor of all – the hope that one day George Takei will select one of your memes for reposting. If it weren’t for that guy, half of the Internet would have nothing to post to each other. Comedian Soren McCarthy created a meme encompassing gays, the “sanctity of marriage” and the TV show The Bachelorette that was shared by Takei with his 2.1 million-plus followers and saw his activity skyrocket.

 “I got about 180 shares through friends when I posted to my own page,” reports McCarthy. “George's post lead to over 41,000 likes and 18,000 shares. I probably had 100 messages of appreciation from strangers, with 20 trying to friend me, and added 30 to my Twitter feed.”

McCarthy continues, “It's fascinating, in the comments section, how the messenger is the message, i.e. "George Takei cracks me up," even though he is not the author. He's a conduit for material and has very good taste and a discerning eye for selection, which is, in itself, extremely valuable considering all the mediocre crap out there.”

Was there negative response to McCarthy’s meme?

“I didn't consider my piece overtly pro-gay so much as "pro-logic". That said, considering who George is, and his brave advocacy for years, I was amazed there was so much homophobic hostility directed at my joke. Why would those people follow George Takei?”

No one currently monitors the validity of memes. There is no bureau for meme accuracy or verification.  I’ve seen several quotes attributed to JFK that seem outrageous, and, upon further checking, turned out they were completely unverifiable as having been written, spoken or even yelled by Kennedy as he was running through the corridors of the White House, playfully chasing John-John. 

“The, er, uh, Zionist bankers are running our banks and stopping our, ah, erhm… wonderful country from achieving its fullest potential… Now come back here, you little Scamp…!”

You can point out to whoever posted the meme that the quote doesn’t come from the indicated source, and you generally get the same response, “It says what I agree with.” Which is like saying, “Facts are for losers. Get over it.”

Come on. You have to respect knowledge, or we’re all going to become more stupid than we already are. Don’t share false information because it forwards your agenda or bias. We used to call that lying. Take a minute and check the facts on something, on everything, before you post. Circulating misinformation is senseless in the Information Age.

This isn’t how we should be engaging with each other over vital topics. At this point, I think we can all agree that we need solutions to issues like unemployment, shoring up our economy or controlling deficit spending. Tossing out memes in place of actual discussion is the equivalent of holding a Presidential debate and having the candidates hold up bumper stickers in response to every question from the moderator.
“You are running on a campaign that pledges to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. What, exactly, is your energy policy?”

The candidate thrusts out his jaw, raises a 2x9 piece of vinyl. Camera zooms in on: “Ass, gas or grass, nobody rides for free!”

Deafening applause. Cue the collapse of Western civilization.


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"Independent Thinking With Steve Gelder" airs on AND, every weekday morning at 10AM Pacific, 1PM Eastern. Shows are available for download on iTunes and

Follow me on Twitter: @SteveGelder

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"To follow by faith alone is to follow blindly."
~ Benjamin Franklin

Monday, July 2, 2012

Growing The Show

My apologies to those who actually stop by to check this blog out from time to time; life has been so hectic in the past months that nothing has been updated or reported over here on The Ol' Blogaroo (which sounds like a potential title for a regular column about the Bonnaroo music festival)...

Ladies, this is what a sexy liberal looks like...

Just finished a show today with comedian/actor/political pundit/sexy liberal John Fugelsang. He's a bright, funny guy who knows his sh*t, if you don't mind my saying so. He is impassioned about his beliefs, and he can back them up with a rapid-fire series of facts and figures that will leave the average head spinning. If you didn't catch it live, check out our archive at New Dissident Radio, Stitcher or, naturally, iTunes. Or, you could click this link, which will play John's episode.

In fact, if you have a minute could you please swing by the iTunes page, rate the show and write up a quick review...? It would help boost us on their lists, possibly getting us more exposure on the site, which translates into bigger numbers for the show.

Bigger numbers for the show mean bigger and better guests (although, as you'll see in the archives, I've had some amazing guests, ranging from Presidential candidates to Nobel Prize winners; Tea Party leaders and participants of the Occupy Movement; comics, singers, poets and dancers. Wait. No dancers, yet, although I'm sure a few of them could cut a mean rug...)

Bigger and better guests mean increased numbers and awareness, which means more listeners, and eventually, a wave, a tidal wave, no, a sudden tsunami of activity and notoriety, leading me to a place in the national consciousness, where I take advantage of my moment in the spotlight to advocate for a more reasonable approach to our politics, common sense solutions that get more people back to work and bring the country back to a better, more solid footing.

Then, I start speaking out about the military-industrial complex, Chem-trails and Big Pharma. (Wait a minute, I'm not Alex Jones. Let's see...) I start speaking out about Monsanto, Jay Leno and cars that run on rainbows and puppy love.

(Seriously, the car runs on puppy love. You charge the car by parking it near a middle school at recess. Sex offenders will not be able to take full advantage of these vehicles.)

With a frightening responsive speed, in a series of clandestine, behind-closed-doors meetings, Jay Leno will eventually call, in a high-pitched tone, for my head on a stake, while his own noggin rocks rapidly in that bobble-head pattern he's assimilated over the years.

A giant, genetically modified ear of corn will be sent to assassinate me.

In a final, desperate act, I will incinerate my attacker, my home and myself using a canister of Napalm I keep around the place to sprinkle on roasts and grilled foods. (Adds a little kick.) When the firemen finally locate our bodies in the charred remains of my once-proud $42 million mansion, they will look upon our corpses and think that I died trying to make the biggest batch of popcorn anyone has ever seen.

I always wanted to be cremated. And buttered and salted.

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Just for the heck of it, I thought I'd link to this film I shot and edited as a collaboration with Ralph Phillips (of Blue Monarch LA Productions) and Hilary Lentini (of Lentini Design ). This short film called "The Last Days Of Water...?" about the on-going drought and the scarcity of water in Southern California was presented at the 2010 L. A. Municipal Water District's Global Water and Technology Forum. I think it holds up pretty well.

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"Independent Thinking With Steve Gelder" airs on, every weekday morning at 10AM Pacific, 1PM Eastern. 

Follow me on Twitter: @SteveGelder

"Follow your heart." "What if my heart is bad with directions?" "Get your heart a GPS."