In a recent article, Social Media Lingo—Terms It Won’t Hurt You to Know, Louis Foong mis-defined as follows:
“Meme: Okay, I’ll confess; I did not even know how to say this, but now I’m told it rhymes with ‘dream’. A catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet.”
Internet-induced ignorance here we come. The world doesn’t revolve around the internet. Words had definitions long before Twitter came along and Memes have been spreading throughout human societies for fifty thousand years. Well, OK at least Louis knew it rhymes with dream and more accurately GENE, a word which few internet junkies know, as nobody reads science books anymore. The concepts are more than 128 characters long.
Meme is actually a term used by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene (1976) as a noun that "conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.” Just as biological entities are built of genes and their expression, cultures are maintained and grown by the memes (individual, discrete ideas) that define them. Transmission of memes seems to be related to the capabilities of mirror neurons to accurately imitate very complex concepts with high unconscious content and emotional charge.