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Meme Update #21

In this issue:

Internet Mind Viruses
Free Sexual Favor
Archive of Misheard Lyrics

Internet Mind Viruses

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Internet is becoming infested with mind viruses.

Never mind the recent study that shows a link between Internet use and depression These mind viruses cause something much, much worse than depression: they cause us to waste our time.

The viruses I'm talking about are the next generation of chain mail. Loyal readers will remember the "Make money Fast" Internet chain letter I used in Virus of the Mind to illustrate the new phenomenon. Even MORE loyal readers will remember the "Good Luck" chain letter I used in my first book, Getting Past OK, to illustrate the unconscious control that memes have over us. But those are now old technology, dinosaurs made obsolete by the melting of the ancient ice caps known as slow modems.

No, the new mind viruses are full-color multimedia all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas They spread by use of two new technologies: HTML mail and ICQ.

HTML mail is the ability that new mail programs, such as Microsoft Outlook, have to send actual web-page content (called HTML for Hypertext Markup Language) in a mail message so that it can be instantly displayed. ICQ is a program made by a company called Mirabilis ( ) that is to email what a telegram is to regular mail. The beauty of ICQ is that you have to answer messages right away; there's no inbox to let them sit and gather dust. Funny how the ABSENCE of this feature makes the program more useful, or at least useful in a different way.

Both of these technologies were ripe for infection by mind viruses. As loyal readers will remember, all viruses must have encoded within them an instruction to spread the virus to other hosts. I loosely refer to this as the Evangelism meme, although there are all sorts of subtle and unsubtle ways to do it. (I sprinkled a bit of all of them throughout my book Virus of the Mind, which is why its sales keep increasing rather than following the usual "blip" curve of a newly introduced book. Finding them is left as an exercise for the reader.)

The content of these new mind viruses is still quite tame and follows the usual chain-letter pattern of good luck, friendship, and so on. I haven't yet received a "Make Money Fast" one over ICQ but I get plenty of them over regular email. ICQ has the advantage (to me) that I can tell who's sending me stuff. But how can you snap at someone for sending you a huggy bear? Until now, the best you could do was to sigh and try to explain to them about memetics. But now there's an antidote! See the end of this article.

Meanwhile, there are still some nasty strains of regular email mind viruses going around. In particular, the one that says Bill Gates will give something to every addressee if the mail gets forwarded to 1000 recipients. I got one of those with about 50 nested attachments -- and I'm so curious I had to open them like Russian dolls, only to find the same old lame chain mail inside.

In an ongoing effort to remain inconsistent, I have created three related web pages. Feel free to send them through ICQ or email to anyone you like. Heh heh.

The first two are generic pass-it-on mind viruses. I have attached counters to each so we can tell which one does better. Go wild!

The third is a mind-virus "antidote." You may want to send this one to gently enlighten any "friends" who send you unwanted chain mail.

Let me know if you have any interesting experiences...


Free Sexual Favor!

Surf on over to and hurry before supplies run out! [exercise for the reader: find the memes!]


Archive of Misheard Lyrics

Named after one of the most commonly misheard lyrics, is a growing database of memetic mutations in song lyrics. What do the Beach Boys really sing in between verses of "I Get Around"? You won't find out here! But you will find out what people THOUGHT they sang.

And 'scuse me while I kiss this guy...

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Richard Brodie is the author of the first and best-selling book on memetics, VIRUS OF THE MIND. VIRUS OF THE MIND is in its third printing and spent over six months on the best-seller list! Start reading VIRUS OF THE MIND on-line, for FREE, at

Richard Brodie delivers keynote and other addresses for a variety of private and public audiences. If you are interested in having Richard Brodie speak to your group, please email

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