I'm going to be writing a novel this November as a textbook for Macromemetics. I want to illustrate the basic principles and some of their functions in allegorical stories with a group of characters who learn the principles along with the reader.
One of the basic principles of Macromemetics is that of the memetic reward, or memetic orgasm. It may be as yet a bit ill-defined, however, it's also something that should be able to be observed experimentally, e.g., via medical experiments such as MRI imaging of the brain, as a stimulation of the reward centers of the brain. When a person enacts (or "deploys") a meme, an imitable action, such a speech event, a physical action or gesture, there is some kind of response that they "expect" from their fellow human beings. This expectation is called memetic debt. Getting that response triggers a memetic reward, and this is called memetic resonance (1). The process of enacting a meme, expecting a response, or incurring memetic debt, and enjoying resonance represents a memetic loop. Until the loop is closed, the individual carries or "suffers" residual memetic debt.
Where Micromemetics Gives Way to Macromemetics
All of this, enacting memes, incurring memetic debt, carrying (residual) memetic debt, enjoying resonance, closing memetic loops is Micromemetic in nature, i.e., it is all experienced at the level of the individual, as opposed to the group, or cohort, but it is foundational to the group-level study of Macromemetics. The study of how individual brains process memes, how we evolved to do this is covered in Susan Blackmore's The Meme Machine and elsewhere.
There are a number of ideas that are foundational to Macromemetics. Humans evolved big brains, mainly big pre-frontal cortexes, in order to model the behavior, the "feelings," of large groups of fellow individuals. The size of this group, about 150-200 individuals, is the Dunbar Number. This allows us to act in large groups in a coördinated fashion. It gives us a high degree of empathy, it allows us to predict how others will think and feel and act. The "double-wiring" of our brains gives us the "monkey-see, monkey-do" capability of seeing someone else doing or experiencing something, and allows us to truly feel what it would be like to do or experience the same thing, and to laugh or cry or imitate a skill (including speech) as though we were doing it ourselves, even down to the levels of our muscles and nerves.
Quite by accident, we created a second replicator, the "first replicator" being genes, which compete with one another within our reproductive biology. The second replicator consists of memes, or imitable behaviors (skills, gestures, speech, etc.) which reproduce and compete with one another in our brains and through our ability to imitate one another. This whole mechanism has been thoroughly researched already, and I take it all as a given in elaborating the field of Macromemetics, just as an evolutionary biologist studying a given genetic adaptation moving through an animal or plant population takes genetic selection as a given.
Macromemetics is the study of the behavior of (large) systems of memes in (relatively) large populations of human beings.
Summary and Conclusions
Macromemetic evolution is driven by individuals' desire to get resonance, which is effectively getting empathy, understanding, from fellow humans. Successful memetic agents do this reliably. They are successful at predicting which memes they have at their disposal are more likely to resonate with their given audience, whatever that may be. This idea explains why live performances are more "powerful" than filmed ones, why humans seek power and fame, why cultures and languages tend to remain static over hundreds of years, and also why they split up and evolve.
By extension, understanding of how this all works, how to identify and measure memes and memetic interactions, to characterize the laws of such large systems of memes, should explain war, genocide, politics, oppression, social malaise (or health), crime, successful marketing campaigns, large-scale economic behavior, and so on. It should also allow us to engineer large-scale human behavior, or to determine whether a given enterprise, sales campaign, motivational scheme, political campaign, military effort, organizational restructuring, or what-have-you, has a chance of success or not, and what it's likely to cost.
This is the goal. The construction of a new body of scientific and engineering expertise with the capability of understanding and ultimately ending large-scale human misery.
(1) A possible interpretation is the response from others that "you did it right!" This could be an active response, such as applause, looking on with interest, or enacting another meme in response (3), or it could in some cases be to do nothing (2,4).
(2) A couple of cases where doing nothing might be a nudist colony, where the act of taking off one's clothes might be otherwise considered anti-social and meet with a negative response, in the colony it meets with no response, and that in and of itself is the reward. Another might be a meeting of racists, which making racist comments might be accepted, meeting with no comment, instead of the negative reactions one might see in the general society.
(3) Another positive memetic response to the enactment of a meme is for others to simply imitate it. One human does something cool, and then others try to do exactly the same thing. Obviously, this is a very common human experience.
(4) Doing nothing as a memetic resonance is to be distinguished from alienation, which is where one's audience does not react (5) when some reaction is normal or expected.
(5) An example of this is Reagan-era America's response to the 1980s AIDS crisis, which, up until Ryan White, only impacted gay men. The response was nil, i.e., an entire population who was losing hundreds of thousands to a horrible plague was completely ignored, until, and only to highlight the memetic alienation (6), a young heterosexual boy, Ryan White, contracted the disease, prompting Presidential and nation-wide attention...which they should've been doing all the while up to that point, obviously.
(6) Memetic desolation, possibly the same as alienation, is a state in which an individual or group has little or no memetic inventory to deploy vis-à-vis the attendant cohort. Imagine a foreigner living in a place like Japan, where they don't speak the language or understand the culture. As such, they have few if any memes they can deploy with which the local population will be able to resonate (desolation) and have little luck getting responses from the locals to their foreign memes (alienation). Such a person would not, however, be oppressed, since they could still get their needs met by getting food at local shops and restaurants, and watching foreign TV over WoWoW.
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