For those who've never been on one, a Wiki Walk is where you look up one topic [for example, on wikipedia] and follow interesting areas down a rabbit-hole. Only to emerge somewhere around Real Ghost Stories or Cryptids Near Me wondering how the hell you got there from where you started.
Today's Wiki walk started with Extra Credit - which covers a lot of interesting things, including various languages you can tell a story to an audience in, and I'm not talking verbally. From there, I went through some things on D-News and wound up with Ugly Food. Watch it. It's fascinating.
And now I'm watching a bit about memes. Because it's interesting.
And interesting things can be taken, transformed, and wrangled about to create new things. Transmuted and sometimes warped beyond recognition, they become elements in whatever I'm writing. They can become springboard ideas for a story I'd like to write. They can be the basis of yet another planet in my pet universe.
And sometimes, they mean a change in the way things are done on Amalgam Station itself.
Nik the Gyiik, for instance, would definitely use what we call "ugly food". But he'd never see it as ugly. In all things nourishing, there is beauty. Good meals are powerful in Gyiikish society. But that doesn't mean that all Gyiiks are chefs. Hell no.
One of the things that ticked me off most about Star Trek is their insistence on Planets of Hats, where the entire planet is devoted to just one thing. You can not run a world like that. And I lampshaded it more than a little when I was writing the Hevun's Child trilogy. Sure, you can have the planets population known for the way they Samba, but you can't have everyone being Samba maestroes. They need to eat. They need medicine. They need clothes - even if it is costumes for the Samba contest. Planets need infrastructure, and you don't get that if everyone is dancing.
Rant over for now.
You can have something integral to a society without it being the be-all and end-all for absolutely everyone. Currently, our society is obsessed with sex. It's true. It's plastered everywhere. But it's a warped and warping obsession. It's seen as low and dirty, yet it's used to sell things. Sex is offered in a lot of advertising. It's a sub-current in a lot of humour. Hell, even one of our top curses is related to it [F-bomb, anyone?]. It's there, but it's not necessarily blatantly obvious. See my point?
It's where I have to be careful when I'm writing a world because Hat Planets are easy to write. There's no effort. And it's why, when you really look at the planets surrounding Amalgam, you'll find that only the Human Colonies tend to be Hat Planets at all.