10398602_1361034887334774_1264224153922483735_nThis is a popular meme, one that I was ready to share with others on Facebook or Twitter, which is a primary measure of whether a meme works or not. This one works. For those creating their own meme for Writing II, it is not a good example of the kind of meme that takes an issue and lends insight, the kind of argumentative, issue-based meme you will be producing.

The reasons why are not that complicated and have a lot to do with a common problem in critical writing, the use of cliches. This meme is based on an extension of cliches about
“living in the moment,” of which there are several since it is such a popular idea. Carpe diem, gather yon flowers whilst thou may, cowabunga, dude, and so on. It’s been a popular idea through the ages, leading to cliched language and individual cliches, which are phrases or metaphors used so often that they lose meaning as a unit and keep it as used language. For example, the phrase “hare brained idea” has now morphed into “hair brained idea” or even “air brained idea.” All connect to a metaphor of a tiny brain , like a hare, a cousin to the rabbit would have. However, when changed to the homonym hair  or even air by those who don’t know what a hare is, the phrase dilutes and becomes even more of “just something people say,” a common description of a cliche. Good academic writing works by looking for a gap in the literature, for a stance that not everyone agrees with. Building new knowledge won’t happen with stock language.

Back to the meme. If the basis of your meme is a cliche, that means it is also shallow enough in meaning that it can’t be used to convey a complex idea. Avoid cliches like the plague. Seek the higher ground. In today’s society, we like topics to be hotter than a stove lid, to be something that is the bee’s knees. Right? Right.


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