A meme is a unit of cultural information that is passed on by imitation. The term was coined by the biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. It is a replicator that is in some respects analogous to the gene, thus the name.
Memes, similar to genes, attempt to get themselves replicated. They do this by getting their human hosts to pass them on to other people, or to a medium such as the internet.
Examples of memes
One example of a meme is a catchy song, because people are likely to listen to it and hum the tune, as well as telling their friends about the song, the radio play, etc. Another good example might be a funny joke or slogan, that people are likely to pass on and imitate.
The Memes For Religion and Faith
Some memeticists have described religion as a complex set of memes that are complementary, otherwise known as a memeplex (religion is not the only possible memeplex; there may be one for, say, political beliefs). Religion is a highly successful memeplex as many people believe in religious ideas and spread them. The idea of "faith" is a particularly good meme, because it prevents questioning of other memes within the memeplex.
- Viruses of the Mind by Richard Dawkins - an essay on religions as viral memes