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Warning: Toxic Meme

My journal has been a meme-free zone for a while now. I like it that way. Everything I write here is my own unless explicitly sourced otherwise[0].

There is currently a particularly annoying passive-agressive meme that states "If you truly believe in [cause] then repost this and title the post as "[cause]". If you don't believe in [cause], then just ignore this. Thanks." I'm deliberately removing the topic for the purposes of this analysis, but it revolves around discrimination based on a deviance from some perceived norm in what we consider 'Western' countries.

This "meme" is no more than a guilt-propagated ideological pyramid scam, a worthless pledge designed to give the posters a sense that they are above those who don't participate, that they are somehow "more for" the cause than those who don't copy/paste a quote and a sanctimonious whinge. Fuck that. I know who I am and I know what caues I am for and what I am against. If I want to state those causes, I'll do so in a form of my choosing, at a time of my choosing, for reasons of my choosing — and I will do so in the form of a discussion, stating my position and letting people comment, compare, and contrast.

I know I've fallen into the trap. I haven't ignored the post. But on the other hand, I could never really stand passive-agressive bullshit. I go for plain old agressive every time.

So fuck this meme. Causes should be taken up because of actual hard-core belief, not copy-pasted guilt avoidance. Though in this case the underlying cause may be good, the carrier is thoroughly toxic and should not be allowed to propagate.

And anyone dumb enough to think I am not a supporter of rights for some segment of the population just because I don't give in to shit like this should stop reading right now. You probably need detailed instructions in order to breathe, and I'm probably going to distract you from those with some more long words soon.

[0]: Though you watch, someone's going to find proof otherwise. Note the "for a while now". This is a statement of general policy, not absolute truth.

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( 13 informants — We want information! )
yfel
Oct. 3rd, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC)
With Their Pristine Moderate Liberal Minds
This is almost certainly in reference to the 41-comments-and-counting fooforaw on Charlie Stross' LJ.

I think you would agree that Charlie meant well, but that he's just a sucker for LJ memes. He clearly had no idea that this would cause such a ruckus, probably because he cut, pasted, and posted it before he realized that it implied that anyone who didn't follow suit was a raging bigot.

And by and large I agree with your point here. The Bush-style "If you're not with us, you're against us" type of statement wrinkles my nose more than the average LJ meme (which is terrible enough), and I was surprised to see someone like Charlie taken in by it. It's simplistic, manipulative, and well, kinda silly, much like the forces Charlie usually tries to oppose. (E.g., George Bush, extreme anti-terror campaigns, or any flavor of fundamentalism.)
digitalraven
Oct. 5th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
Re: With Their Pristine Moderate Liberal Minds
The whole trick comes from the false dichotomy fallacy, that's what I find so galling. A meme propagating by logical falsehood.

And frankly, Charlie wasn't the main reason. It was cropping up in other places (dare I say "all the usual places" with reference to my flist? Hell with it, none of them are going to read this now), and I was surprised that so many people were suckered by it.

Hence this post.

ObTangent: I wonder what population of LJ-ers in general even know that a meme is something other than a cut&paste thing from the end of a quiz or seen on someone else's journal.
yfel
Oct. 5th, 2006 12:47 pm (UTC)
Re: With Their Pristine Moderate Liberal Minds
Re: Your tangent -- I have had that exact suspicion cross my mind. I would have to think most people who use the word meme now have never heard of Dawkins or his original usage.
digitalraven
Oct. 5th, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC)
Re: With Their Pristine Moderate Liberal Minds
Hrm. I feel the need to wax voiciferous 'pon the subject soon.
angelevie
Oct. 3rd, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
*chuckle*

I like the odd, silly, fun, light hearted meme - and have been known to post them - they are infact pretty harmless and give me something to add to my journal when I am either a) pissed off and don't want my journal to be a ranting zone, b) down and don't want to post my woes constantly in search of sympathy, c) bored and too appathetic to bother thinking of something clever to say or d) it amuses me.

This particular one I had not even noticed until I read this post - I had done that scan read 'this is crap' thing, without even noticing and had to go back over my friends page to work out what you were talking about - not even a single ounce of me was tempted to copy and post it.

Your post made me smile - because you got all het up (I'm not saying that is wrong or funny in a bad way) it's quite (please excuse my choice of word here as I am know what I mean but translating my thoughts are ,at the best of times, more than difficult) pleasing as in it was good to see that you were passionate enough to post about it and not do my usual thing and ignore it.

You may also notice my sitting on the fence on this one, pretty much cos people can do what they want on their own journals and I don't have to read do I? I know my beliefs and what I stand for and I don't really feel the need to advertise it on my journal or otherwise.

but now I am aware that I am rambling so I'll just quit with a 'cheers for the chuckle'
figg
Oct. 3rd, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
I saw it on beth's journal. Thought meh. Don't think they meant it on an exclusive basis, but I am suprised that the manipulative guilt trip didn't repluse them from such an action.
digitalraven
Oct. 4th, 2006 07:35 am (UTC)
The exclusivity is very easy to infer given that wording. Whether that's the implication that the creator was going for or not, it's certainly not just me who has inferred it.

Your usericon is not safe for my hangover. Which is my fault, I well know.
ninja_jay
Oct. 3rd, 2006 08:52 pm (UTC)
Well put sir.
Would you belive I read the meme just after this post on my friends list and felt quite agrivated.
corielena
Oct. 4th, 2006 12:27 am (UTC)
Coincidentally, I had just been shown that meme by a friend who felt insulted by it. She is not, by the way, anti-gay.

I showed her your response--she was most impressed. As am I, which is par for the course.

I enjoy memes. If you read my posts, you'll know that. But this, to me, isn't actually a meme--it's an invitation to join a "better than them" club. No, thank you. I know where I stand on that issue, and I'm perfectly happy there. I don't need to join a whiny little club to prove it. I'll save that sort of "joining" for causes and people who aren't whiny.

Note--the cause in this case is not itself whiny. That meme WAS.
etherlad
Oct. 4th, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC)
I just showed this post to a friend of mine, as well, who had just posted the meme in question (although she had removed the "if you don't support [cause], just ignore this post"). She said she hadn't thought of things this way, and subsequently deleted the post in its entirety.
digitalraven
Oct. 5th, 2006 12:47 pm (UTC)
Y'know, I'm feeling somewhat guilty about that.

See, the cause itself is a good one. I am not against people stating their support for any causes in public.

I am against such statements that have harmful propagation mechanisms. She removed that mechanism, so there was nothing wrong with what she posted.

Perhaps I need to do some clarification, or a post on memes in general.
etherlad
Oct. 5th, 2006 12:55 pm (UTC)
Well, to be fair, she still had "if you support [cause], repost this," which still includes "don't repost if you don't supoort [cause]" by implication.

I didn't specifically request she remove her post, I just pointed her here, and she decided to do so on her own.
digitalraven
Oct. 5th, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
One can infer that, but the unsaid words don't imply what they did when they were included. The two are not synonyms, as Nero Wolfe well knows:

He rarely stands when a caller enters, and of course he didn't then, with the dictionary, the two-thirds of it that was left, on his lap. He dropped sheets on the fire, turned to look at her, and inquired, "Do you use 'infer' and 'imply' interchangeably, Miss Blount?"

She did fine. She said simply, "No."

"This book says you may. Pfui."

-- Rex Stout, _Gambit_


But anyway. As you say, it's her decision. I was just ruminating a bit.
( 13 informants — We want information! )

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