nem sirok csak 65ezren belementek a szemembe
A crowd of 65,000 sings ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ perfectly while waiting for a Green Day concert
THIS. IS. PERFECTION.
1. how the fuck did Green Day follow that
2. you know, we have fun here, with the word “meme,” but according to meme theory, which is an actual thing pioneered by reptilian human impersonator Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, most of what we call memes are very unsuccessful memes. A meme, in the scientific sense – if one is generously disposed to consider memetics a science on any particular day – is an idea that acts like a gene. That is, it seeks to replicate itself, as many times as possible, and as faithfully as possible.
That second part is important. A gene which is not faithful in its replication mutates, sometimes rapidly, sometimes wildly. The result might be cancer or a virus or (very very very rarely) a viable evolutionary step forward, but whatever the case, it is no longer the original gene. That gene no longer exists. It could not successfully reproduce itself.
The memes we pass around on the internet are, in general, very short lived and rapidly mutating. It’s rare for any meme to survive for more than a year: in almost all cases, they appear, spread rapidly, spawn a thousand short-lived variations, and then are swiftly forgotten. They’re not funny anymore, or interesting anymore. They no longer serve any function, and so they’re left behind, a mental evolutionary dead end.
This rendition of Freddie Mercury’s immortal opera Bohemian Rhapsody is about the most goddamned amazing demonstration of a successful meme I’ve ever seen. This song is 42 years old, as of 2017. FORTY TWO YEARS OLD. And it has spread SO far, and replicated itself across the minds of millions of people SO faithfully, that a gathering of 65,000 more or less random people, with nothing in common except that they all really like it when Billie Joe Armstrong does the thing with the guitar, can reproduce it perfectly. IN PERFECT TIME. THEY KNOW THE EXACT LENGTH OF EVERY BRIDGE. THEY EVEN GET THE NONSENSE WORDS RIGHT. THEY DIVIDE THEMSELVES UP IN ORDER TO SING THE COUNTER-CHORUS.
“Yeah, Pyrrhic, lots of people know this song.”
Listen, you glassy-eyed ninny: our species’ ability to coherently pass along not just genetic information, but memetic information as well, is the reason we’re the dominant species on this planet. Language is a meme. Civilization is a collection of memes. Lots of animals can learn, but we may be the only animal that latches onto ephemera – information that doesn’t reflect any concrete reality, information with little to no immediate practical application – and then joyfully, willfully, unrelentingly repeats it and teaches it to others. Look at how wild this crowd is, because they’re singing the same song! It doesn’t DO anything. It’s not even why they showed up here today! If you sent out a letter to those same 65,000 people that said, “Please show up in this field on this day in order to sing Bohemian Rhapsody,” very few of them would have showed up. But I would be surprised to meet a single person in that crowd who joined in the singing who doesn’t remember this moment as the most amazing part of a concert they paid hundreds of dollars to see.
And they’re just sharing an idea. It’s stunning and ridiculous. Something about how our brains work make us go, “Hey!! Hey everybody!! I found this idea! It’s good! I like it! I’m going to repeat it! Do you know it too?? Repeat it with me! Let’s get EVERYBODY to know it and repeat it and then we can all have it together at the same time! It’s a good idea! I’m so excited to repeat it exactly the way I heard it, as loudly as I can, as often as possible!!”
This is how culture happens! This is how countries happen! Sometimes a persistent, infectious idea – a meme – can be dangerous or dark. But our human delight at clutching up good memes like magpies and flapping back to our flock to yell about them to everyone we know is why we as a species bothered to start doing things like “telling stories” and “writing stuff down.”
“That’s a lot of spilled ink for a Queen song, Pyrrhic.”
Man I just fucking love people.
Beautiful. Thank you Queen for ever having existed. I miss Freddy Mercury to this very day.
Also, I take it @pyrrhiccomedy that you have done a great deal of readin on Social Contagion Theory and Dawkins’ memetic evolutive ideas? Excellent reading.