We seem to prefer to say negative things about things over positive ones. It's easier to rubbish somebody or their idea than it is to support it. Is this real, or is it just a perception? I think Macromemetics should be able to provide an answer to both these quandaries.
Enter the Immunomeme
What is an immunomeme? I'm still working on a good definition for them. First off, memes are memes are memes, and calling something a 'signal meme' or an 'immunomeme' is probably going to turn out to be a judgement call rather than an appeal to a hard definition. The definition of an immunomeme, that I'm working with, is as follows:
An immunomeme is a meme who's primary action in the operation of the memeplex that comprises it is that of preventing said memeplex from changing. That is, any change in the state transition matrices of the memeplex, in other words, from losing existing memes, gaining additional memes, or the way in which memes trigger one another within the memeplex.
That brings us to the First Law of Immunomemetics:
Any stable memeplex must contain an immunomemeplex.
A Nod to Hard Science
I'd like to quickly mention, sort of as an aside, that a major goal of the development of Macromemetics is to develop a system of units of measure. I believe this to be possible, but so far I have made few inroads. I have identified a number of system properties, such as residual memetic debt, for example, but have not yet successfully quantified them. Being able to quantify something like RMD, based on quantitative measurements, would be a huge boon to sub-fields of Macromemetics, such as Macroeconomics, in being able to provide solid numbers for things like sensitivity of interest rates or wages or other things, again, for instance.
This brings us back to the idea of Macromemetics being a real-life implementation of the dream that Isaac Asimov put forward in The Foundation Trilogy, that is, the science of Psychohistory, put forth by Hari Seldon, in which the exact behavior of large numbers of people could be predicted deterministically with high levels of accuracy. My hope is that Macromemetics shall provide this, and not even with the requirement that the population in question be "large."
At any rate, I'm getting together more and more concepts and bit by bit the laws that govern them, and the next step will be assigning units to these quantities and identifying the real-world measurements that are needed to feed computations based upon these laws. After that, begin experimentation to test the theories. Of course, I'm already conducting experiments to confirm the qualitative validity of many of these principles, I just don't have an experimental and theoretical edifice in place to allow me to quantitatively make claims about exactly how much it will cost or how long it will take to shift such and such interest rate, increase employment or education, will this or that political election campaign, sell that product profitably, win that war, etc. My belief is that it can be accomplished, however.
Back to Negativity
Do we need to define 'negativity' in order to do this? Perhaps. Do we need an exact working definition of an immunomeme in order to do so? Why would I even ask that? I had a chat with a friend the other day about talking about people talking about films they like or don't. She said she doesn't like The Big Lebowski, while I identify as a The Big Lebowski liker (1). Let's imagine the two as memetic systems (2), i.e., TBL- and TBL+. Actually, let's not imagine that, since we may not have a good idea of what a memeplex is (2). What we can immediately agree on is that we have a memetic inventory (4) associated with the film (8).
Examples include Jeff Bridges wearing a bathrobe through the whole film, wearing sunglasses, calling himself 'The Dude' and such. John Goodman's behavior was readily identifiable, i.e., he carried firearms where not permitted, he yelled about a lot of things (not everything), etc. There were the 'Germans' who dropped a ferret in the bathtub, and so on.
A concept which I have not completely fleshed out or included into theory yet is that of 'parametric immunomemes' and 'omniphagic immunomemes.' These may also be thought of as 'immunomeme generators,' in other words, simple 'machines' that generate immunomemes from some memetic inventory, presumably that of a film like TBL, possibly also including a bigger set of
'Omniphagic' means 'eats anything and everything' and so could consist of immunomemes such as 'it was dumb,' 'there wasn't enough action/sex in it,' 'it lacked originality,' 'I just didn't like it,' etc.
'Parametric' means that the immunomeme (3) is a kind of template that generates specific memes based on inputs, which can be other memes (6). Elsewhere I use the notation for memes as say_its_stupid! while an all-caps object is a MIAO, e.g., TBL_FILM. We could go further, break some new ground, by imaging TBL_FILM.BATHROBE to denote the bathrobe Jeff Bridges wore the whole time, the fact that he wore it the whole time, the bathrobe-wearing as a part of the character 'The Dude.' Indeed, we could posit the additional MIAO of TBL_FILM.THE_DUDE (7).
Now we can see how a parametric immunomeme could generate actual immunomemes against the position of somebody holding the TBL+ view.
tackedon![TBL.BATHROBE] = bathrobe_tackedon! = 'Jeff Bridge's character's bathrobe-wearing image seemed tacked on.'
takedon![TBL.BOWLING] = bowling_tackedon! = 'The characters' interest in bowling seemed tacked on.'
Is the relative ease with which anti-TBL (or any film, or any idea) memes may be generated a factor in why negativity is 'easier' (which may not even really be true)?
Do Immunomemetic Generators Equal Negativity?
My immediate feeling is 'no,' but it think it's worth exploring. It's kind of like the matter-antimatter imbalance in the Universe (9). What I'm trying to say is that we may find that it's easier to conceive of immunomemetic generators that generate negative immunomemes that attack positive ones than it is the reverse. Or it may be more correct to say that more immunomemes that a successful memeplex can generate to defend itself tend to be negative. It may be harder to generate lots of positive immunomemes, say, that defend a liking for The Big Lebowski, than it is to generate immunomemes to attack it, that is, to defend the system for disliking the film.
A graphical approach may shed light. First, we have the MIAOs of the system, represented by 'solid' balls, since they usually represent real objects. As mentioned before, symbolically, MIAOs are written in ALL CAPS, like here with BATHROBE and BOWLING.
fig 1. MIAOs of TBL
Next we talk about 'Memetic States.' A State is still kind of a nebulous object (and it is shown as a 'cloud'), since it represents something like the memetic deployment readiness of the cohort at a given moment, typically thought of just after some meme has been deployed. This is simple to imagine in the case of a memetic cohort of two people discussing their disagreement about the film, The Big Lebowski, i.e., turn-taking, what each person says presents the other person with a set of possible responses, and depending upon what the response a choice is returned to the previous person. It's rather like a ping-pong match.
With large numbers of people you of course start to have all sorts of race conditions and 'jinx events,' to decide who is the next person to deploy a meme, and how many other people will actually receive and respond to that meme and so forth. We also see emerge things like memetic nexuses, etc., but I think we can look at our positive-negative immunomeme idea in a simple two-person system.
Memetic states are written in CamelCaps. And of course as we've seen, memes are written in lowercase with an exclamation mark at the end (10), with underbars allowed, e.g., steal_this_book! We are now positing the idea of a meme that can produce other memes, in this case, immunomemes. Those memes then potentially become permanent members of the memetic system, in this case, the memetic system that denigrates The Big Lebowski, or more to the point, people who claim to like the film.
AnyState [TBL.BATHROBE] say_bathrobe_cool! => denigrate! [TBL.BATHROBE] = 'The bathrobe was dumb.'
This effectively takes us to a state where the film has been criticized in some way. This also by the way represents creation of a meme that links two MIAOs together, in other words, just mentioning the MIAO gives the opponent the chance to meme-pair it with a negative MIAO, in this case 'dumb-ness' but it could be anything. We could wonder about whether it's meme-pairing or MIAO-pairing. Invoking a MIAO is effectively a meme, rather like forwarding a cat video to a friend -- the meme is the forwarding, since you are not imitating the cat video itself, which is a MIAO, or in this case, a 'meow-meow.' And MIAOs are anchoring points for memes, i.e., more mean stuff to say about your favorite movie, so we've effectively created a new MIAO, TBL.BATHROBE:DUMB, which may be used later.
But why can't the TBL+ person create something like TBL.BATHROBE:COOL, and if so, why is this a weaker new MIAO than TBL.BATHROBE:DUMB?
Summary and Conclusions
I'm trying to keep these regular essays short, and apologies for not creating more graphics to go with this one, and for wrapping up early. I still don't feel that I've nailed down what an immunomeme is, but I feel that I've hit on a number of new and interesting ideas. Among them the idea of the immunomemetic generator (12), as well as the idea of MIAO or meme pairing as the result of the action of an immunomeme (11).
If I can identify a mechanism for this, make it clear, then I can probably start to answer the original question of this essay, which is whether negativity is more 'prevalent' and a fundamental reason why this should be so. Or perhaps I can demonstrate that it is not in fact the case, as show why it should appear to be so.
This could turn out to be something like Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, which concludes that it's easier to ask questions than to answer them and gives a mathematical proof of this. There may be a macromemetical proof in the offing that it's easier to be a knee-biter than it is to actually do or say something constructive and productive.
(1) A distinction, i.e., "I like it" as opposed to "I'm an X liker," which may prove telling.
(2) I have a few essays that describe some of my attempts to describe memetic systems visually and/or mathematically. One introduces the concept of memetic states and the other uses that to describe 'cheating' and other behaviors within the Blue Shirt Tuesday Doughnut Experiment. Finally, in another I describe a mathematical/computational model of memetic states within a memeplex which may lay the groundwork for modeling a memetic system of any size.
(3) or the 'immunomeme generator.' A parametric meme takes some imitable behavior, in this case, speech events about a film, and alters or adds to them based on some parameter. For example 'X is boring' or 'X is unoriginal' which could produce 'John Goodman's rage is boring,' or 'The Dude's bathrobe in unoriginal."
(4) And a lot of it is memes, and a lot of it is MIAOs (5). memes are imitable behaviors, MIAOs are objects, ideas, etc., which anchor and invoke memes.
(5) Memetic Iconic Anchoring Object
(6) Actually, I may have to think on this one -- it may be the parametric immunomemes require as input MIAOs. I tend to stick with textual/speech events, but the idea of putting out your hand to shake and then raising to a salute (like President Donald Trump did with the North Korean generals during his visit), may represent a kind of 'memetic hack' that might be able to be characterized as parametrically immunomemetic in nature. Food for thought.
(7) So we can go with TBL_FILM.THE_DUDE.BATHROBE to be equivalent to TBL_FILM.BATHEROBE -- it doesn't really matter. But we have the concept of 'nested MIAOs' where we can start to think of something along the lines of an entire culture along the lines of USA_CULTURE.MOM, USA_CULTURE.APPLE_PIE, USA_CULTURE.JULY_4TH.FIREWORKS. Indeed, we can have a memetic state like BePatriotic [USA_CULTURE.JULY_4TH] set_off_fireworks!, bbq!, watch_parade! In other words, a special set of memes are available to the memetic state of being patriotic when it's the 4th of July, in America.
(8) Bathrobes, sunglasses, wheelchairs, German Nihilist, area rugs, bowling, guns, names like "The Dude," and so forth, as well as more complex ones.
(9) I may be trying to explain something simpler in terms of something more complex, or at least explaining something that requires a lot of specialty knowledge to grasp using something (the fact that the Universe is almost all matter and almost no antimatter, and nobody has a good explanation as to why).
(10) In Japanese, a meme is written with the katakana letters 'suru' at the end, regardless of whether the name of the meme is a verb or a noun.
(11) The idea of the special action of an immunomeme being that of pairing two ideas, or MIAOs, is an old idea for me. I just have never gotten all that close to a way of expressing it until now.
(12) I have been kicking around the idea of omniphagic versus parametric immunomemes for quite some time now, and I feel I've gotten a few insights here.