We need a Ministry of Memes

Although there are cutbacks on public bodies and quangos it does seem we need a new post of Minister of Memes to ensure government does not inadvertently create the wrong word of mouth memes to undermine its intentions.

A meme is the heart of word of mouth communications – it is how a message can replicate itself well beyond its original missive. 

The information that circulates in our society is not necessarily the definitive text of whoever first commissioned the text. Rather, it is the sticky messages most conducive to people’s ‘truthiness’ – the reality they want to hear and see – which get passed on, and become accepted as Gospel by the community.

So, the proposal for a Ministry of Memes is this: any time government wants to tackle a problem, put forward new measures, or has a view, it needs to take into account and consider the potential dimension of memes – how will the message be relayed, distorted, and live on beyond the original transmission.

The Ministry of Memes could spot potential memes that may inadvertently arise from even the most well intentioned of acts.

At the moment we have a government making plans for major cuts in public spending. Yet, it is now seeking to adjust its message to allay concerns about such cuts could lead to a double dip recession by saying that some cuts will not come into force for several years and therefore should have no impact on the immediate economy.

Essentially, such messaging fails to take into account the reality of memes.

A complex message will boiled down to a lowest common denominator for ease of passing on; the public sector is facing cuts – cuts, cuts, cuts; not a series of cuts where some impact will not be felt for a number of years…..

Remember, communications is not what about what you say, but is about what will be said by others – the memes seeded by your words and actions and replicating onwards.

Hopes that a more complex message will be heard fails to take into account the ‘cuts meme’ already unleashed.

Until we get a Ministry of Memes that can advise rule makers on their actions, before Governments make any decisions, they need to take into account of the memes they are creating and their consequent impact, in the widest sense, on the good of our society.

Pass it on.

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