Messi’s team may have recently won the world cup. However, his bigger victory might just be beating an egg at the game of Instagram. But more on that later…
The tendency to mirror is woven into our shared human nature, shaped over millions of years by evolution.
The existence of mirror neurons proves this. These neurons are devoted specifically to learning new behaviors through imitation.
In The Selfish Meme, Kate Distin reveals how ideas, or memes, operate much like genes. Different memes have different levels of fitness; different likelihoods of being spread from mind to mind and person to person by imitation, based on what resonates with us. Using humans as a medium, competitive memes spread and succeed.
Humans use memes. But in a sense, memes also use humans.
This egg is a great example, which used millions of humans to facilitate its massive spread and achieve a world record (only to be defeated by Messi’s post after winning the world cup).
What seems like a simple egg is, in fact, a narrative. That’s why it got over 50 million likes.
There’s a protagonist, of course: the egg. There’s a goal, a mission, a vision: owning the world’s most-liked Instagram picture. There’s a “team” people can join by spreading the egg: “egg gang,” they call it. And there’s even a villain, an antagonist, an anti-hero to defeat: Kylie Jenner, who had the most-liked post prior to the egg. Add on top of that the sheer outrageousness of it all, and you get narrative wildfire, which takes on a life of its own. Not to mention the mystery surrounding the egg’s origins, purpose, and meteoric rise to fame.
The result is that we have a very competitive meme on our hands – a world record egg.
Or maybe, the egg has us.
Either way, this is an example of viral spread being put to good use. The account behind the egg started raising awareness, support, and money to help the mental health crisis and other charitable causes. One UK charity, for instance, saw a 147,000% increase in account discovery. That’s the power of a 54-million-person community, even a loosely connected one.
As Seth Godin says, the ideas that spread, win. It’s our responsibility to make sure the winning ideas actually mean something. Even if it’s an egg.