This is the study of how information, culture, and ideas propagate through a population through a perspective of evolution, comparing information to gene mutations.

Richard Dawkins coined the word “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene to describe a unit of information that propagates from mind to mind. The study of this became known as memetics.

Why I Looked It Up

I saw a book in a store called “Wanting: The Power of Memetic Desire in Everyday Life.” I have not read the book, but it’s apparently about how the desire for something is memetically transferred from person to person.

From the back cover:

When Regina George wears a new outfit in Mean Girls, why does the rest of the school try to match her? When Elon Musk tweets about Clubhouse, why does everyone want to join? From trends and ideas in fashion to bubbles in financial markets, Wanting explores the hidden social process that plays out.

And I’m reminded of this scene from The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda explains to Andy how the desire for a certain shade of blue was transferred from the fashionable elite down to the masses.

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