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Shaping the Social Genome

Epimemetic Edicts Vol. 1

Epimemetics: Shaping the Social Genome

In the ever-evolving landscape of public relations and marketing, there’s a fascinating phenomenon that mirrors the biological process of epigenetics. It’s called “epimemetics,” and it’s about how cultural units, known as memes, can be influenced and altered through advertising, much like how epigenetics can lead to changes in gene expression without altering the DNA sequence itself.

Understanding Epimemetics

Epimemetics is the study of how memes, which are akin to social genes, can be modified and propagated across generations or, in this case, consumer cycles. The term draws its roots from Richard Dawkins’ concept of the meme, introduced in his book “The Selfish Gene,” where he describes memes as ideas, behaviors, or styles that spread within a culture.

The Ten-Year Cycle of Trends

Professionals in PR, advertising, and marketing have long observed that trends tend to follow a ten-year cycle. This cycle is characterized by the resurgence of past styles and ideas that become popular once again. This “nostalgia cycle” is not just a reflection of society’s love for the past but also a strategic opportunity for marketers to reintroduce concepts with a modern twist.

Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF)

Incorporating the concept of RLHF, a machine learning technique where AI learns from human feedback, we can see advertising as a feedback mechanism. Over a decade-long cycle, consistent exposure to certain ideas could lead to a societal shift in norms and values, similar to how epigenetics affects gene expression.

Xenointelligences and Advertising

In the context of advertising, “xenointelligences” refer to novel ideas introduced to the public consciousness. The goal is to make these ideas familiar and accepted over time, effectively “installing” them into people’s minds. This process relies on the cumulative effect of consistent messaging and the human tendency to adapt to repeated stimuli.

Ethical Considerations

While epimemetics can be a powerful tool for positive change, it also raises ethical questions. The potential for manipulation and exploitation exists, and it’s crucial to consider the impact of orchestrated advertising campaigns on consent, autonomy, and societal well-being.


Epimemetics offers a new lens through which we can view the impact of advertising on society. By understanding the cyclical nature of trends and the human propensity for adaptation, marketers can craft campaigns that resonate across cycles, ensuring long-term engagement and relevance. As we continue to explore the intersection of technology, culture, and commerce, epimemetics stands as a testament to the power of ideas and their ability to shape the social genome.

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