How memes mutate – from Tyrion Lannister to Jane Marple.

We’ve reached the point in our almost post-literate society where memes matter. The right picture with the right tagline can become part of how we think about things.

This makes memes the perfect medium for influencing people. Except that the best memes have a life of their own and as they’re transmitted across the digital world, they mutate.

One of the most successful memes is a quote from Tyrion Lannister in Game Of Thrones

I suspect it’s the drink part rather than the know part of this quote that explains its popularity.

It’s a meme that’s cleverly crafted to make a wise advisor seem more human and less threatening. At a time when experts are being demonised by politicians who won’t let facts stand in the way of their political fantasies, this is a smart way to package expert advice.

Like many other people, I tucked this meme away with a smile and a nod, adding it to my stock of T-shirt wisdom.

The thing is, it didn’t stay dormant. I’ve recently started to read the Miss Marple books for the first time, so Miss Marple has been sharing space in my head with Tyrion Lannister. Which made me wonder what the two of them would make of each other.

I suspect Tyrion would understand the threat Jane Marple poses just by being in the same room as anyone doing anything that they want to remain secret or deniable and both he and Jane would remain silent. Later, if asked, Jane might comment, with that talent of hers for deniable irony, that there was much more to Tyrion Lannister than was immediately apparent.

Then my imagination kicked up this Miss Marple meme.

The difference, of course, is that Miss Marple is always sober and never feels the need to share what she knows until she’s ready to strike. She’s a predator, not an advisor.

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