“Human beings evolve genetically through genes and culturally through memes.”
– South Park (Season 16, Episode 3: Faith Hilling)
Memes are a ubiquitous part of our culture, but we are not just talking about internet memes. The term ‘meme’ was first coined by Sir Richard Dawkins in 1976, and it can be symbolized as a unit of cultural evolution. In that regard, internet memes can be viewed as the cutting edge of human communication that spread like a virus.
The theme of the English evening meeting for last Tuesday was ‘Memes’, and this quickly mutated to ‘MeMeeting’. We had an enthusiastic roaster of our members and guests who all contributed to the fun, constructive, and collaborative atmosphere at the MeMeeting. I kicked things off by introducing the theme of the evening and introducing the crucial supporting roles (called the MVPs) for the evening. The word of the day was ‘lol’ (laugh out loud), which participants used not only in their speeches but also via handmade posters throughout the MeMeeting. Right after that, we had three excellent speeches by Shams, Atul, and Johannes. Each speaker incorporated diverse elements of effective public speaking, which made the speeches enjoyable not only because of their content but also because of their style.
The speeches were followed by an excellent and thought-provoking Table Topics session, which was administered by Christine. She went back to the roots of Meme Theory and called upon the speakers to share experiences of their lives that made the propagation of memes through the culture quite transparent. A few guests also participated in Table Topics, thus giving them a taste of the full Toastmasters experience.
During the break, we tried out Breakout rooms on Zoom in order to simulate various small clusters of people that people are likely to arrange themselves in a while socializing on real life. After the break, all the speakers received customized and actionable feedback, followed by general feedback regarding various aspects of the MeMeeting that encouraged and stimulated everyone to keep on improving.
Based on the voting, Atul and Johannes tied for Best Prepared Speech; Dwi won Best Table Topics, and Jonathan won Best Evaluator. At the end of the MeMeeting, we all put on a meme face for the group photo.
Memes help us evolve; they make us laugh, they make us think, but above all, they unite us.