Siel, over at greenLAgirl, “tagged” me to participate in a “future’s meme.”
Some of you are asking: “Wtf is a meme?”
I first read this term in Adbusters magazine about eight years ago. I didn’t totally understand it back then so I relooked it up just now at Dictionary.com and combined several citations to compose my own definition of ‘meme’:
a unit of cultural evolution; an idea or behavior passed on through culture; a gene passes on traits through biology but a meme passes on concepts or practices through cognition or repeated social conduct. In this way, humans select ideas and behaviors conducive to survival, much the way that genes mutate and adapt to aid survival biologically. Coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976.
Clear as mud? Okay, here’s an example: the craft of brewing beer. We are not born with the knowledge of brewing, it is not passed on genetically. But cultures, like Egypt, that learned how to brew and passed on the knowledge through cultural beliefs (religious ritual in praise of grain and fermentation) and technical know-how (rules governing and techniques advancing the art and science of brewing) were able to thrive.
Okay, so what’s a “futures meme?” I think the idea is for us to conceive of, and therefore help to direct, the future in ways that will help us adapt. In other words, discard ideas about the future that are counterproductive to our survival, such as “there is plenty of oil and it doesn’t cause any problems so we can just go right on using lots of it,” and replace them with ideas like “using oil is bad for our health and it causes lots of unhappiness so we need to invent a positive future that doesn’t need it.”
I think this is all just a way of saying that ideas matter, but frankly I’m still a little confused myself. In any case, the task for participating is to answer these three questions in a no more than a few sentences each, so here goes:
1. What do you fear we’ll likely see in fifteen years?
A world paralyzed by fear and insecurity, and where there is no good beer to provide at least a modicum of comfort.
2. What do you hope we’ll see in fifteen years?
A thriving community center (i.e. brewpub) on every corner.
3. What do you think you’ll be doing in fifteen years?
Hanging out at the brewpub, I mean community center, chatting with my neighbors at the end of each day. I pretty much guarantee that this is in my future.
I’m also supposed to “tag” five friends to participate in this “futures meme” so here there are: Dave at Via Negativa, Rob at Marginal Utility, Carolyn at Phrases that Stir the Grinding Water, Antonia at Bush Agenda, and my brother Tim at UH Students Against Sweatshops.