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If you hang around Facebook and Instagram for long, you'll notice something that is quite popular but is a colossal waste of time. I call them meme games.
A meme game is a type of social game where an individual posts a meme or creates a post on a social media platform designed to elicit a response requiring others to like and re-post the same message for no reason other than everyone is doing it. Essentially, there are two types of these games.
Tit-for-tat - One popular form of the meme game is a political back and forth between those on opposing sides of a controversial issue. For instance, a die-hard progressive shows her support for her gay friend by posting a meme featuring a rainbow and some catchy phrase intended to express her conviction. A few minutes later, a committed Christian shares a meme intending to put the liberals in their place and which basically says "God says gay sex is a sin." On and on this goes, Progressives meme attack their conservative followers on topics of importance to them, which typically include racial equality, gay marriage, climate change, and a few other pet issues. Conservatives do the same, offering counterpoints that seldom address the heart of the issues but more often simply express their convictions in a memetic way. The problem is they aren't having a real conversation. They're just talking past each other and doing it in a safe way that doesn't involve any actual interaction with another person who thinks differently.
Lean On Me - The other type of meme game is what I call the "Lean On Me" game. It goes like this: A single mother in her 40s posts a long textual message that celebrates the glories of being a single mom in her 40s. At the end of the post, it says "If you feel the same way, copy and paste this message into your news feed." Another variation of this asks followers to respond to the message in some way. For instance, it might just be a cute message about how life is beautiful and we should all celebrate our differences because variety is what makes the world go around. And if you agree, "Like this post and comment 'Amen'." These types of posts are rarely political. They are more often sappy or funny, but rarely deep and thoughtful. A third variation of this type of post is the conspiracy theory post, where a string of inaccuracies, half truths, fallacies, and non-sequiturs are shared as type of public service. The posters are of these memes are usually well-meaning but ill-informed. One popular variety of this type of post is the Facebook meme that warns followers that Facebook is planning to use their content for nefarious purposes but if you post a message saying "I don't give you permission to do this," then Facebook will back off. They're never true.
Why I Don't Play Meme Games
Meme games come in many varieties. What I posted above is simply a barebones description of the basic types of meme games. Sometimes, they show up in the form of a quiz or a type of post that is interactive using Web2 tools and a link you have to click. You'll click the link and be taken to a website where you answer a few questions and then you'll get a result saying your alter ego is Beelzebub, and then you're asked to show the result to all of your friends.
Here are four reasons I don't play meme games:
They're silly - Simply put, meme games are silly. Even the more serious kind, and the political memes, are silly in the sense that they seldom, if ever, achieve any real purpose. They don't change people's minds and do more to alienate others rather than foster solid relationships built on trust and respect. I'm not against expressing political, religious, or controversial sentiments, but if the only purpose for doing so is to tell the world that you have a conviction and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong, that's silly on a whole new level.
They're a waste of time - In a world full of noise, where anyone and everyone has 24/7 access to their own publishing platform to post whatever thought pops into their head while eating dinner, sitting on the toilet, or driving, I think it would behoove us all to think about how we spend our time. I struggle enough to stay productive. I don't need any time-wasters pulling me away from things that are really important.
They're not innovative - The whole point of a meme is to do what everyone else is doing. There's nothing new or innovative about them. Sure, the first person who shares the meme puts a little creativity into it. After that, it's all copycatting. As a person who values originality, I'm not into playing meme games.
They don't encourage originality - The flipside to not being innovative is that meme games don't inspire original thinking. They encourage people to be just like everyone else.
I'm not posting this shame anyone who does play meme games, but I would encourage you to think about how you spend your time and consider whether your penchant for meme games might be too much over the top.
Will Web3 Fix Meme Games?
I remember when Facebook launched, and I was there when Twitter launched. These websites were innovative social media platforms that offered users a way to connect with others and share their deepest thoughts seamlessly. They were not perfect by any chance, but they were new and innovative. Of course, social media had been introduced to the World Wide Web as early as 1997 (I give a full treatment to the history of social media in my book Web3 Social: How Creators Are Changing the World Wide Web (And You Can Too!)), but Facebook took the concept to a whole new level.
Early adopters tend to be more serious than early and late majority users, and considerably more than the laggards. Early adopters show up, put their work gloves on, and work out the strategies that succeed long before other users discover new technology. They experiment, take risks, and aren't afraid to fail.
By contrast, early majority users tend to arrive to new technologies after they have proven. They aren't interested in experimentation. Rather, they want to know that a new technology works and is beneficial for their uses. They rely on the knowledge and expertise of early adopters to craft a strategy that works for them. They have a problem to solve and look to early adopters to prove that the new technology will solve their problem. If it can, then they are willing to give that new technology a try.
New technology, if it works and improves our lives, is a wonderful thing. But it doesn't change human behavior. Web3 technology is currently in the early adopter stage. The people you find using Web3 tools are pioneers. They are not time-wasters, but they are risk-takers.
What's going to happen when the early and late majority users show up to take advantage of Web3? By then, the early adopters will have used the tools for thousands of hours and have worked out the strategies that work for them. They'll begin to teach the majority users about those strategies and what Web3 can do for them. For the most part, it's the late majority and laggards who spend their time chasing memes. These are the people who show up at the end of the party to finish off the hors d'oeuvre and drink the last few beers. They completely miss the meet-and-greet session at the beginning of the party and the guest of honor's speech in the middle of it. They just showed up to kill some time.
Currently, I don't see a lot of silly games on Web3, but I'm fully aware that someday, should the technology ever mature enough for early and late majority users, the day will come when the silliness begins. Perhaps by then there will be an emerging new tool to pioneer.
Collectors of this post will receive 300 Taylor Tokens ($TAYL).