Sunday, January 20, 2019

Do Memes Stimulate Cortisol or Oxytocin?

Do Memes Stimulate Cortisol or Oxytocin?

The main point of the years of drawing on napkins has always been to give me an extra incentive to understand and appreciate my sons’ interests... particularly when my first (and second, and maybe third) impulse might be to dismiss a show, game or character as annoying and not worth my time. 

I have learned much over the last 15 years about things like comics, legos, superheroes, and video games. And there is always something new to push the taste envelope a little further.  

Here I am arriving belatedly at my point: I am going to try to improve my appreciation of memes.

Those idiotic videos and gifs with loads of sexually and politically incorrect tidbits that can be endlessly scrolled when one is supposed to be doing homework, wiping one’s backside, or listening to one’s mother lecture about how endless scrolling of Instagram is both counterproductive and, yes, unhealthy!

I am starting with “Relax by Petting Your Dog” a YouTube bit by Shawn Anderson.  Shawn casually talks about how petting a dog lowers one’s cortisol, raises oxytocin and increases human lifespan...while his unhinged chihuahua frantically gnaws on his fingers as he attempts to pet the yapping, clearly very high cortisol pet. 

This video is perhaps a bit “too on the nose” here. We often discuss the idea of getting a dog to decrease the stress of certain household members. (And increase that of others no doubt)

And because I have at least temporarily communicated my linguistic weirdness to my kids, we often use the word “oxytocin” (ie, instead of “I need a hug”- “I need oxytocin.”)

The word “meme” was originally coined by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist. He described a genetic model to explain how memes develop and are dispersed. In this scenario, humans are just carriers and transmitters. The “fittest” memes are the ones that last and proliferate. 

I’m afraid my selection of memes for napkins will definitely not be the fittest or most liked. I suppose they will have to possess some personal, or family, relevance...and be something that I want to draw.

But we welcome and encourage extra familial suggestions! 
I need all the help I can get.

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