“You hear what you want to hear.”
According to Wikipedia.com, a meme is:
“… a self-propagating unit of cultural evolution having some resemblance to the gene… Memes can represent parts of ideas, languages, elemental particles, tunes, designs, skills, moral and aesthetic values and anything else that is commonly learned and passed on to others as a unit.”
From pet rocks of old to internet “smileys” in the now, memes are a new way of looking at an old phenomenon: fad psychology against the subtext of cultural anthropology.
But memes are also about hearing what you want to hear, which can be both good and bad. Bad, if it results in obstinately rejecting challenging ideas if those ideas threaten a pre-established way of living. Good, it it only means that, given our predispositions, it is harder to learn new ideas even if we hear them. In other words, only when we are ready can we truly internalize new concepts.
Case in point: Lately, like a weird sense of deja vue, I keep reading, hearing, and seeing this little meme set pop up in various media:
You are unique.
It’s not your job to be accepted.
You are responsible for your actions.
Someone loves you.
You will be missed.
A burden shared is a burden supported.
Community needs people.
Your life has significance.
Perhaps this particular message is merely expected with the current zeitgeist of pop-psychology. Perhaps not. All I know is that right now, the words do not ring hollow to me anymore, where before they would have.
In any other context, I’d say (and maybe you’re saying) the meme is trite, cliched, or old news. But somehow, I’m finally hearing the meme. As the adage goes… “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” How true. The meme has taken root in me. So deeply has it run, that sometimes the thoughts make me emotional at the sheer gravity of their meaning. “Am I really loved?” “Am I really unique?” They are so deceptively profound, I’m amazed at their mystery.
The most recent sighting of this meme was last night at AWANA clubs at church. I’m one of the boys’ leaders, and our speaker was talking to them about finding pure acceptance only in Christ. The message was to children, but it had deep implications for me. Perhaps this idea is too deep even for kids, though it’s delivered with the most basic of terms. Perhaps those kids will have to grow up, live through pain, and establish their individuality first to truly accept the truth like I am still learning to do. Maybe some of them are more than ready to understand the meme now. I hope so. They would be way ahead of the game.