Closely related to its sister science of infopathology
, epimemeology is the natural result of moosh
ing two perfectly good English words together. Those words, naturally, are epidemeology
. The former you can go look up yourself on Webby
. The latter, however, is subject to so many interpretations, assumptions, mischaracterizations and the like that it has, in fact, come to be a prime example of its own definition - that is, it is now officially a metanoun
For those of you whose senses of humor are just tuning in, I swear I am making this up.
In any case, the humor (if any) is a tad tongue-in-cheek, because there does, in fact, exist a science of epimemeology. If we take meme to be in the cultural sense, as an idea or concept that sinks into the subfabric of popular culture; the very sewers of our media (popular in the widespread sense, not necessarily the approving sense) then a prime example has already been unleashed right here on Everything2! By wh00t, no less. The example given is a wonderfully precise, or better yet demonstrative one.
The study of epimemeology, in short, is the attempt to discover the spread of a meme through a defined medium. In the case of E2, one could conceivably and fruitfully produce entire theses on the epimemeological implications of the invasion of such phrases and ideas as MR.T ATE MY BALLS, Lesbians! Monkeys! Soy!, I Trust my ass chip to linux, Jessicapierce's Hot Ass and many, many more.
In fact, for the casual or dedicated pursuer of epimemeology, I can think of no more ideal medium for the study than E2. It is, as it were, a veritable Petri dish, filled with the wondrous agar of nodegel and noder's brains to nurture, spread and sustain the meme as it moves through the community. Have you ever said to a non-noder friend something along the lines of "Gee, you should try SOY! Soy CRUSHES ENEMIES!" If you have, then you have been witness and unwitting (or, in some cases, witting) participants in the attempt of a rascally meme to spread its metaphorical wings and fly off eagerly into the world beyond our tiny haven.
So, the next time you find yourself digging through imdb to discover where that line that's been bothering you for two days came from; the next time you catch yourself pawing through old and dusty VHS cassettes of 1980s MTV in order to try to figure out who began some awful trend, then you (yes, you) have taken up the torch and tuned in to this most entertaining of sciences.