Memetic prevalence debates

October 22 2016

Once upon a time there was a Sparrow who lived with her fellow sapient animals in the woods outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. One day in October, it started to get very cold, and Sparrow's friend Salamander died of hypothermia. Sparrow was very sad about this, and said, "This is an outrage! We need to build a bonfire and keep it going throughout the winter, so that no more animals will die of the cold!""

Caribou and Bison grumbled that this would be a lot of extra unnecessary work; they'd survived many winters without a bonfire, so why was one needed now? They told Sparrow to go away and leave them alone. Sparrow, not to be deterred, started tweeting about her cause with the hashtag #BonfiresForSalamander. Eventually she got retweeted by Kitty Purry, which brought a lot more attention to her cause, and soon there was a full-blown Bonfire Movement. Animals all around the world started pitching in to help build bonfires. Before long, every animal in Fairbanks had a warm place to go.

Sparrow was very happy about this, but she knew her job wasn't finished. "There are still too many places out in the wilderness where animals aren't safe from the cold!"", she said to her 400,000 Twitter followers. "Last week, an entire family of frogs died near Yakutsk. We have to keep building bonfires everywhere in the world, until this never happens again!""

Meanwhile, outside of Phoenix, Arizona, a Coyote woke up and noticed that it had gotten much hotter than usual. She crawled outside her den and saw that the other animals had built a bonfire just outside it.

"Hey, what's going on?"" she asked Iguana and Gila Monster as they gathered more dead brush to throw onto the bonfire. "Why is there a bonfire outside my den? It's way too hot in there now!""

"We're building bonfires to keep the other animals safe from the cold. Haven't you read about it on Twitter? It's a movement!"" said Iguana.

"That's my den and I'm worried I'll get heatstroke! Can't you move it someplace else?"" said Coyote.

"Look,"" said Gila Monster, "I know this is inconvenient for you, but the Bonfire Movement is really important. Cold weather is the worst crisis of our time, and it kills millions of vulnerable animals every year. If you don't support the Bonfire Movement, you're on the wrong side of history and you deserve whatever you get.""

Frustrated, Coyote logged onto Twitter and wrote: "@Sparrow In Phoenix it's really hot and there are too many bonfires. Can u guys maybe stop building them there so I don't die of heatstroke?""

Sparrow replied: "@Coyote Cold is a much bigger problem that affects more animals than heat. I've never seen anyone get heatstroke #BonfiresForSalamander""

In desperation, Coyote moved to Yakutsk, which was cold and unpleasant, but at least there weren't any bonfires. Turns out not a lot of people there follow Kitty Purry. Today, there's a thriving Anti-Bonfire Movement there, made of other animals who moved from equatorial climates. The frogs still die of hypothermia every winter; Coyote feels bad about this, but she'd rather just ignore the problem than try to deal with Sparrow again.

MORAL: Buy a thermometer.

Amelia
Cambridge, MA, USA
ameliaquining@gmail.com


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