“Unleash the meme …”

Anybody who has been following social issues for even a short time, let alone for decades, must have come to realise that the vocabulary used is of paramount importance. Memes are “mental slogans”, or even words, that encapsulate a point one wants to make quickly and easily and in as arresting a way as possible.

The conservative side of politics has been slow to catch on to this new reality. One problem is that many conservative ideas are hard to reduce to a slogan. Many of the leftist slogans are simple assertions that sound good, but don’t work out in detail. Conservative ideas take more exposition. Figuratively speaking, it is always easier to bring the dynamite to blow up the old building than to explain why the building might be best left in place.

One example of the Right fighting back with a pithy expression would be the sudden emergence of the term “cuckservative” into (almost) mainstream American political discussion and rhetoric.

The “manosphere” has been a fertile generator and promoter of memes of its own. To take one of many, there is the term “friend zone“. This term has become popular enough to be attacked as offensive by mainstream liberal websites. Of course, such attacks may do quite a lot to spread the expression.

But how mainstream is the expression “friend zone”? I was just listening to the “easy listening” local radio station here in Canberra, Australia (Station 2CA). The upbeat male announcer said to his female colleague, of a contestant on a reality show, that the poor man was “on the highway to the friend zone”.

I think it is safe to say that if a phrase is being used on a popular radio station, it and its meaning are entering common parlance.

One thing I have observed about social science and social commentary is that a lot of the skill is in naming things. Not just randomly, but naming things that are real phenomena, which simply previously lacked a term to describe them. In the political arena, this “naming” of phenomena has been largely a weapon of the progressives. But, to coin a phrase, “two can play at that game”.

(To give some homely examples, when I was at school, there were certainly “nerds”. I was kind of one myself. But there was no word for them back then. The other kids at school had to invent a word for us – “black coats”, because we chose to wear black blazers. Another case was that of a fairly attractive woman I used to work with once in a laboratory. Attractive as she was, there was something odd about her calves. I now realise that she probably had “cankles”. I could make a vague observation, but I lacked the “technical term”.)


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