Recently a meme went around on the spanking blogs. I have seen these things before. They’re fun, but being a blog neophyte, I didn’t really understand the word “meme.” I finally got around to pulling out my dictionary (good ol’ Webster) and looking it up. Wasn’t in there! The fact that my preference was to use the actual tangible, book dictionary is enough to date me, but that’s another issue. How do I find out about this word? Wikipedia, DUH!
Here is the Wikipedia definition: A meme (pronounced /miim/, rhyming with "cream") is a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.
Now this is a relatively new word, which is why I did not find it in my relatively old Webster’s dictionary. It was coined by the famous atheist and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene” (these are facts that most bloggers probably know, but I did not). What in the world did this have to do with the blog game? I had to read deep into the Wikipedia to find out that bloggers have co-opted the word to mean something that propagates in the blogosphere. (Aside: I think the internet version should be called bgene, pronounced bean, in analogy to weblog, i.e. web-gene)
But, to the point. The meme idea fascinates me. Is spanking a unit of cultural practice, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through rituals or other imitable phenomena? I think it may be. I have often wondered where the whole concept of spanking comes from, and how people come to need it. If spanking is fundamental to our culture it would propagate, and occasionally mutate, to give us the rainbow of spanking tastes we observe today. I would probably be a cultural mutant. Would the meme idea explain the disproportionate number of female to male spankees? What cultural evolutionary benefit would spanking provide to its adherents that would make them more successful? I may have to read “The Selfish Gene,” or some of memeticist Susan Blackmore’s work. I wonder if she’s a spanker. She sounds like a spanker.