How a flu shot got me thinking about memes

For the love of God, Fred. No one wants to see your Angela Merkel impressions.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of ways to make my blog more “likeable,” which is a way of saying “less boring.” It’s a well-established fact of online life that outrageous gets attention and traffic, but my posts tend to be on the ponderous side, mostly because I’m not very good at provoking reactions or ranting about every little thing. My writing voice isn’t suited to it. When I do write a rant, I feel that I just look angry, which doesn’t win friends or followers.

I’ve also got an instinctive aversion to self-promotion, a vital skill for a self-published author. My reluctance comes from a very old-fashioned value that regards ostentatious emotional displays as unseemly and distasteful. Talking about yourself too much is a sign of an ego out of control. It’s fine for politicians and celebrities, but not for ordinary people. None of this works to my benefit in a media environment where ego rules, and one has to shout like a maniac to be heard.

Arm yourself. Get a flu shot.

One day, not too long ago, I had a revelation. It started with a flu shot. I told my Facebook friends that I had received my shot and urged them to do the same. It occurred to me that a meme might also persuade them. I created one on imgflip’s meme generator, just for fun, and posted it. For reasons I can’t explain, none of my anxiety about self-promotion kicked in, perhaps because the image and the message not obviously my own. Weird, I know. It was also a way of expressing my twisted sense of humor.

Since then, I’ve experimented with other memes, and I’ve awoke at 2 a.m. with ideas, scribbling them down on an old-school paper pad. You can see my first efforts in my Memes gallery, and I plan more. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “How a flu shot got me thinking about memes

  1. Humour/humour is a terrific way to get any serious or just plain any point across and I, for one, adore the Penguin Commentators! More, more! I blog about five times a year except for poetry month but I notice that on Facebook, my posts about Human Rights Day with links to letter-writing or my rants and links about stopping a hugely destructive hydro dam on the Peace River in B.C. and get few or no “likes” but a relatively innocuous photo of a storm coming in off the north Pacific or anything related to my lighthouse life gets dozens of likes… I spent thirty plus years promoting other people’s books, which I loved doing, but like you, find it onerous to blat on about my own darn books. I had to give my head a shake and look at the evidence and convince myself that other people really do want me to share nuggets about my own life. I want you to share more of your dry and witty photo/humour/humor pieces and just see where that takes you!


    1. Thanks so much for the thumbs-up, Caroline. This is new territory for me, and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’s had trouble with self-promotion. Let’s hope this little experiment is successful!


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