A meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads…

A meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Memes are culturally analogous to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

Memes are a viral phenomenon that evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.

A field of study called memetics arose in the 1990′s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuro-imaging may make empirical study possible…

“DARPA PREPARES FOR MEME WAR” (Link)

“A FORTY YEAR UPDATE ON MEME THEORY” (Link)