Human’s learn best from each other. One of the most distinguishing features is how much of our time we spend teaching each other. Unlike most other animals, humans are born with little understanding of the world and few instincts to guide us. This is our great strength. We are born with far less of a destiny than, say, salmon forced to return to their ancestral spawning grounds even though the effort kills them.
But it is also a weakness of our species. Take for example agriculture. This enabled the development of human civilisations, as people were no longer constrained by the energy available from the sun at any point in time. They could store a portion of the annual energy for future consumption, rather than having to rely on what fruits were in season or what game was wandering around.
The agricultural revolution occurred 95 per cent of the way into the total amount of time our species has spent on this small green planet. Thus far.
That means for 95 per cent of humanities history we didn’t even have the rudimentary basis for civilisation! I find it incredible!
What is particularly interesting is how the Neolithic Revolution only took place in a number of places. To be specific, archaeological data indicates that various forms of plants and animal domestication evolved independently in six separate locations worldwide circa 10,000–7000 years ago.
So, the BIGGEST invention in human history only occurred six times. That is to say, the rest of humanity, for the majority of our frail species existence, did not even have the fundamental basis of civilisation.
Despite it being ‘invented’ in only a few places. The innovations spread through copy cats.
What is interesting to me is how the internet has fundamentally transformed the human capacity to learn from each other. Now our social domain is not restricted to just the cousins and close relatives you might be wandering the African savannah with, but the entirety of the human race. Or at least those of the seven billion of us that are wired to the net.
For the most perfect expression of the creative potential of our species, I present to you:
These are fascinating expressions of collective creativity as people take a shared expression/situation or image and add a little wrinkle to the idea.
Some examples of these memes include: Rick Rolling or Ridiculously Photogenic Guy.
At heart, internet memes are shared creative endeavours. Pouring scorn/humour or attention on the irrelevancies of life.
I have developed my own, very first ever, contribution to this process via adopting the “Call me maybe” internet meme. Newsweek describes this as:
The chorus to Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song “Call Me Maybe” goes like this: “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me, maybe?” Those catchy lyrics, which have propelled the poppy song to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, spawned a variety of playful images referencing various moments in history and pop culture. As it pops up everywhere from Billboard to photos across the Internet to business cards in bars, “Call Me Maybe” is crowned our Meme of the Week.
My contribution to humanities collective creativity is:
While there is every reason to suspect that this expression of a momentary meme will not achieve world wide web immortality, it was fun being involved! At the end of the day is that not a perfect summary of what humanity is about?