This morning I was reading about memes on the web – ideas that rapidly spread to all parts of the internet. The originator of the term meme, Richard Dawkins, described the meme as an idea that is passed from generation to generation. The idea of God for example and the perfect meme of all time: the bible. Any behavior can be supported or refuted if you search the bible long enough. It answers all possible questions you could possibly have about life and even encourages you to recruit more Christians, built-in meme generation behavior. Memes on the web are mostly short-lived, they have a short life in the meme pool Dawkins would say, but some memes make a big splash.
For instance, the curse of the Bambino. The Red Sox (as of today mind you) have not won a World Series since they traded Babe Ruth to the hated Yankees. Every year the media writes nonstop about the curse and television cameras scan Fenway Park with images of Red Sox fans wringing their hands and praying for an end to the the curse, recursive behavior you could call it because the mythical idea of the curse is reinforced every time it is mentioned.
Here is yet another reason I am pushing for Curt Schilling as a write-in candidate for president. In a recent Time magazine article Schilling intelligently explained that any baseball player who thinks that games are won or lost because of a curse instead of superior play is not likely to taste success any time soon.
And yet we all have this behavior. Last week I played in my league playoffs. My opponent was winning every game with a rocket serve and a vacuum cleaner net game. He was eating me for lunch and I was fully cooperating. I should have tried something different, anything at all, because the alternative was losing and I was already doing that. I could have come to the net. Come to the net on his second serve, come to the net on my first serve, hell, come to the net on any serve. If I’m at the net, it’s harder for him to get there. I might have lost a lot of points but I probably would have won a lot more than I did. That’s what happens when we tell ourselves that we are baseline players. We perpetuate a mythical curse on our tennis game that prevents us from seeing opportunities that could lead to a win.
In some matches your opponent is in the zone and will win no matter what you do, in some matches you are in the zone and will win no matter what they do. Most of the time, though, there’s a way to win so if I think of myself as a tennis player who can find a way to win rather than repeatedly reinforce the idea that I am a only a baseline player, I’m gonna win a lot more of those matches.
He also suggests that I shift my weight to my back leg before I hit the ball on my serve so that I can better keep my eyes on the ball.