Memes are plentiful in the Bitcoin community, acting at once as sources of amusement, beacons of solidarity and resources for edification. Many prominent Bitcoiners before me have recognized this, and I would encourage those interested to consult the fantastic articles written by Bob Simon, SEANSTACKIN and Jameson Lopp for more information. In this article, I hope to contribute to this discussion by highlighting the evolutionary dynamics undergirding the existence of memes in the Bitcoin community.
To begin with, the word “meme” was popularized by Richard Dawkins in the 1970s, although it originates from the Greek word “mimeme,” meaning “an imitated thing.” Dawkins, being an evolutionary biologist, realized that in the same way that genes mutate, replicate and are selected for over time, due to evolutionary pressures, so too are cultural ideas.
Memes Represent The Fittest Of Our Culture
In the domain of biology, genes modify the adaptive fitness of an organism given the environmental constraints that the organism is exposed to. Those genes that enhance the adaptive fitness of an organism increase the likelihood that it will reproduce, thereby increasing the likelihood that the gene itself will proliferate among a population. However, the replication of genes across successive generations is imperfect, and it is via replication errors, along with random mutations, that new genes emerge.
There is a sense in which genes compete against other genes for their own survival and inclusion in the genetic makeup of the host organism. Those genes that enhance the adaptive fitness of an organism can be expected to outcompete rival genes that fail to do so over time. This process of replication, mutation and selection was famously described by Charles Darwin (although Darwin was unaware of genes at the time) and is known as evolution through natural selection.
Importantly, those genes that survive and thrive in a population can be thought to reveal truths about the…