What’s in a meme?

A few months back, I criticized fellow bloggers for using a closed “secret club” language in the blogosphere. I felt it was elitist and separatist.

One of the words I thought was overused was the trendy “meme.” Well, guess what? The word meme is now a meme, according to this wonderful article in The New York Times.

Can the spread of memes be stopped? At memecentral.com, run by Richard Brodie, the author of “Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme,” visitors learn how to recognize and resist mind viruses — not to be confused with Internet viruses. “These messages all have one thing in common: they contain compelling messages or memes that grab our attention and persuade us to pass them on.”
After I wrote that entry a few months back, a friend talked me into using the word — convincing me that it transcended the word “idea” in describing certain items.

But the word has gotten so trendy now that I’m back to this essential question. Can you use the word “meme” — in the place that popularized it — without getting caught up in the secret handshake that goes with it?

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