the Addictive Power of Memes 

OV: If you’re asking me about the current US media landscape, I think Donald Trump is a good example. Why did he have so much more media coverage in comparison to the other candidates? While others tried to make arguments, Trump looked at the form. He was constantly serving small, crazy and controversial bits that were picked up by the media. These memes then unleashed other messages. The left should think much more about pleasure and the pharmacological aspects of media, design and communication and after that about arguments. The current US media works like a drug in the literal sense. Trump was good at keeping millions of people high, even tough it was a bad high. I agree with Bernard Stiegler when he speaks about destruction of attention and the resulting destruction of care. Technology enables this every day. The atomizing digital sphere does what Hollywood entertainment could not do now. What’s left is an addicted population. Technology can be added to the list of other drugs, especially pharmaceuticals and bad food. Memes seem to like an environment dominated by any kind of drugs. Unfortunately, bad memes result largely from a culture dominated by social networks like Facebook, produced and consumed by people on bad drugs.

While memes can build stories, todays data/media sphere is largely loosing its narrative. Trump acts without a narrative and this seems to correspond with how the media, especially social media, operate. The destruction of the narrative corresponds with what Rushkoff calls “the constant now”. In order to replicate the feeing of pleasure that we gain from the states of being in the constant now, we need to be fed bits of media without a narrative context because the instant, temporal gratification is what brings pleasure. Franco Berardi (Bifo) has been writing about the rise of use of cocaine in the creative industries because this helped people to focus attention. Have you seen the current fidget spinner craze?

Cocaine is still there, but as cocaine makes people high, so does media—and this is not new—we accept that never before media operated as explicitly as a drug and it never operated as a drug with such an addictive potential with such immense social costs. The USA is the most drugged nation in the world. Memes like this because with slight mutations they can travel fast and wide until they are able to make people high.

Source: Geert | Interview with Oliver Vodeb (Memefest) on the Addictive Power of Memes Today

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