Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Xmas and Thanks for your Support

I don't know what happened. I'm online every day reading the news and trolling on Reddit but somehow I missed the headlines: "Black Plague strikes west coast; anti-vaccine groups to blame."

It's a nasty one, folks. I got hit hard and fast. Almost 2 weeks have passed and I still sound like a baying seal when I cough. And the shit that's coming out of my nose? Disgusting. To make matters worse, I infected my entire family. ‘Tis the season, after all! I shudder to think of all the germs floating around my house, coating every surface like fine dust.

Which is why I didn’t write a post last Friday. It's the first deadline I’ve missed since starting this blog and quite frankly I’m shocked it took me this long to shirk my responsibilities. In my defense I was trying to conserve energy and I didn’t think writing about charity and consumerism was a valid use of my limited stores. Everyone knows it feels good to perform good deeds; everyone knows it’s silly to go into debt over some day which was singled out as special by people who lived 2,000 years ago. That was my post in a nutshell so consider yourself caught up.

Writing about one topic for 8 weeks straight sucked a big one but it did have a few perks. While I was busy torturing myself with Christmas, all these cool ideas for posts started to accumulate in my brain. Starting in January I'll go back to writing two posts a week so I can burn through this backlog. What does this mean?

That's right. It's PEWPEW time

One thing at a time. First I want to wrap up the Christmas talk.

Looking at Christmas through a memetic lens gave me a whole new appreciation for it. Observance of the winter solstice has been a part of human life for over 2,000 years. The idea spread and evolved, assimilating countless other rituals indiscriminately until its original identity was barely recognizable. What we have now—Christmas—is a Frankenstein meme, a clumsy thing marching inexorably forward through the ages, a collage of mismatched ideas stitched together by the thread of human mind and thought.

And that's pretty damn cool! It's a testament not only to the power of our scumbag brains but also to the resilience and adaptability of the solstice meme which rose in ancient Babylon so many centuries ago. That it persists to this day is nothing short of staggering.

If you take anything away from my Christmas rants I hope it will be the notion that we are not slaves to ideas. Tradition requires minds to carry it forward. Those same minds can and should shape tradition as they see fit. Make Christmas your bitch. Celebrate it how you want to celebrate it, not how your parents and their parents celebrated it. Take what you like and throw the rest in the garbage.

My stocking
I like to practice what I preach so this year my family and I decided to customize Christmas. First we laid out some ground rules: no decorations before December 17; no lying to our kids about Santa; no Jesus talk; no Christmas music; and no gifts unless they fit in a stocking.

On the 17th we put up a little tree, strung some lights around it, and hung a few balls. On the 21st, we hosted a solstice potluck for all our close friends. On the 22nd, we hosted a family dinner. Good food, good drinks, and good company.

This change shocked some of my friends and with good cause. I’ve been the Grinch for so long no one expected me to have a tree or decorations, let alone play host to two dinners. What caused this change? In short, it was you.

Knowing that there are people out there reading my stuff is humbling and terrifying and exciting all at once. It motivates me to write in a way I’ve never experienced before. Having an audience, regardless of its size, puts pressure on me. I never would’ve written all those Christmas rants without you, and I never would’ve realized how silly I was being about the whole damn thing. So thanks, friends! I can celebrate Christmas again, and it's all because you bother to read my messy thoughts.

I’ve benefited so much from this blog and I hope that some of you have also benefited, even if only in some small way. The Meme Merchant is my tool for sharing ideas and networking with like-minded people. I want to blow minds and change the way people think about stuff they take for granted. Or better yet, I want to expose people to ideas they've never even considered.

If you’ve enjoyed some of my writing and want to help me out, here’s what you can do: give me constructive feedback. I won't cry, I swear. The things I write about aren't my ideas so I won’t take offense if you disagree. In fact, I encourage you to disagree, to question, to doubt. That means you’re driving and your scumbag brain is in the back seat, far from the steering wheel.

Truly original ideas don’t exist anymore. Everything is built on the scaffolding of past discoveries and revelations. Everything is old news with a new twist. I'm just spreading the ideas that excite me or improve my life or make my brain hurt (in a good way).

So next post, if you have something to contribute, throw some comments on the Facebook page or on the blog itself. But be warned: I don’t feed the trolls.

Like it or not, we're all in this thing together, just a bunch of ants on a grain of galactic sand. 2013 was one hell of a year and I expect nothing less from 2014. Be safe and be good to each other, my friends. I truly appreciate all the support and motivation you've given me.

Merry Christmas,

El Mercante Memo
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