Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Random Thoughts on Memes

Readers of this (or any other) blog should recognize the above phrases as memes. Even before I began blogging, I had encountered the meme. People sent me, via email, personal questionaires (which I sometime filled out and disseminated). I sought out random tests on websites like Heck, back in the day, before the internet, we had slam books and sex quizes to pass the time and reveal very specific aspects of our character to friends and acquaintances. Of course, back then it wasn't so easy to encounter these options for revelation and we all huddled around the few we encountered: that evil slam book passes around in seventh grade, the immorality quiz published in a number of "student handbooks", which asked about drug use and brushes with the law as well as sex, and the "MIT" quiz of 500 questions, all of which were sex related though some were along the "have you ever held hands" lines which, in my opinion, made the sheer enormity of the number of questions less impressive (and, since the point was given for every "yes" answer, the fact that holding hands carried the same weight as sexual intercourse called any evaluative basis the quiz claimed into question).

So the meme and its antecedents have been with us for awhile and, I must admit, I am a fan of them. I like that there seems to be a quiz for absolutely everything. I like that when I have nothing about which to blog, memes provide an easy outlet. I like that the quiz is ostensibly about me, but not (because, let's face it, no one really would confuse me for an espresso). I like that the questions sometimes make me remember things from my past which I had forgotten or realize aspects of my character of which I had previously been unaware. Life is hard. There are so many opportunities for people to misunderstand another's intentions, for someone you considered to be a good friend to jump to the worst conclusions about you, to find your heart broken and never have the opportunity to give voice to that pain. I blog because I want to express myself and I want to be understood and I find that life offers precious few outlets for expression or understanding. How can I not like something which asks me questions in a straightforward manner and gives me the opportunity to respond?

What I don't like about memes is being tagged. I don't like the pressure, the feeling that I must meme or I will offend the person who tagged me, the way that the whole getting tagged nature makes me unable to answer questions which, previous to the tagging, I could have answered with ease. But what I hate most about this tagging thing is how rejected I feel if I am not tagged. I know, it sounds crazy and nuts, but if I read a blog and see I am tagged, I feel overwhelming dread, but if I read the same blog and see that I am not tagged, I feel left out. Trapped and unloved. The twin poles of meme tagging, with no place in the middle because you are either tagged or not. It's like the online version of people choosing teams in gym class--even if you hated volleyball, it hurts to not get chosen.

So how do I reconcile my affection for memes (cheesy as they may be) with my desire for total creative control (even in terms of what questions I choose to answer) and how do I reconcile my hatred of getting tagged with my fear of being unloved?

Before you answer that, can I interest you in yet another quiz?

You Are 50% Normal

While some of your behavior is quite normal...
Other things you do are downright strange
You've got a little of your freak going on
But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

This is in honor of The Ravin' Picture Maven who suggested that the weirdest thing about me was that I thought I was normal. See, there really is a quiz for everything.



Blogger Stuntmother said...

You could be me. This pretty well encapsulates my meme attitude. I don't like doing them because they seem false, like asking someone at a party who her favourite author is and then commenting about how that reveals her inner self. Well ha. But I also want to be loved, tagged and found interesting by others.

Tag, you're it. No meme unless you want one.

6:44 PM, January 11, 2007  
Anonymous kim said...

Exactly the way I feel about memes, so sorry! And this is how I feel about tagging people-I can't choose because I don't want to leave someone out and then the flip side-who really cares if I do? I kept thinking the people I tag are going to hate me and wonder why the hell would she tag me?

11:21 AM, January 20, 2007  

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