A number of weeks ago I published a blog posting featuring the word meme. At the time I took a pretty academic approach to the word, not expecting it to crop up as dramatically as it has this morning.
In numerous accounts of the presidential debate which was held last night in New York, the pundits have focused on former governor Romney’s reference to binders he used to peruse pictures and data regarding women who were potential candidates for jobs in his Massachusetts administration. These binders, he told us, were used because names of appropriate women didn’t pop into his head at the time, and he needed to be tutored about potential appointees.
The use of the term binders has aroused all kinds of commentary, some of which is slightly off color. But the main point seems to be that it is an incredulous thought that then-Governor Romney needed a photo album to discover what competent women were “out there.”
The term meme has been used over and over again when the binder topic has come up. Folks are saying that the concept of the discovery method has struck responsive notes all over the country (and beyond.) I am reminded of a now-defunct tradition at a college I knew where, at the beginning of the Fall semester, a photo sheet of new first-year women was circulated among the male upperclassmen, each young woman having been rated for her sexual appeal. Parties were held at fraternities to which first-year women were invited to be perused by the young men. They were commonly referred to as “meat market” parties. Eventually the college stepped in and banned the practices, identifying them as degrading to women. ( If I remember correctly, the seed which grew into Facebook was a similar binder concept.)
So it is no surprise that the whole concept of Mr. Romney’s binder experience has become a meme. It has flashed across the Internet faster than the descent speed of the man who skydived from 24 miles this past week. Like most of these bumper sticker moments, the binder concept will disappear in time, but with just a few weeks remaining until the election, it is probable that it will gain some legs during this dangerous, volatile period.
Photo Credit: EHow