Tapping into Viral Memes to Boost Climate Change Positioning
A recent post from Co.Exist highlights Joe Brewer and Balazs Karafiath, partners of San Francisco consultancy DarwinSF, who say that “Global Warming is a Virus.” The post explains the popularity of memes, their ability to go viral in a short amount of time, and how this strategy can be employed in climate change communication.
Brewer and Karafiath state “global warming is a meme. No one experiences it directly. They experience it through perception…the only way people can experience it is as stories and ideas in their lives.”
Climate change memes have failed so far because themes like love, creativity and collaboration tend to be left out, argues Ben Schiller. In addition, “people have built-in protection mechanisms that activate psychologically when threats arise against worldview and identity.” So far, America’s climate change movement has NOT appreciated what drives people to take positions on the issue. In order to break down the “built-in protection mechanisms,” future climate social media might look to appeal emotionally and establish a tone of momentum and unity.
BY BEN SCHILLER ON MAY 8, 2013
Why don’t people take climate change more seriously? There are several answers to this, of course – including well-funded attacks by shadowy groups. But, partly, it’s a failure to communicate. The messaging around global warming has been wrong, because we’ve under-appreciated what drives people to take positions on the issue.
Joe Brewer and Balazs Lazlo Karafiath, partners in a San Francisco consultancy called DarwinSF, are interested in memes–ideas, or pieces of culture (think Gangnam Style) that spread virally, until they don’t. They see climate change as a meme–something that’s experienced not viscerally, but as an idea. Part of the problem with its communication, they say, is its weakness as a meme: less Psy, more Seoul nightclub crooner.
“Global warming is a meme. No-one experiences it directly. They experience it through perception,” says Brewer, who has a background in cognitive linguistics. “The science is pointing out a very real empirical phenomenon, but the only way people can experience it is as stories and ideas in their lives.”
Read the full article here.