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Honneur sans Valeur

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This is a continuation of my assorted series of observations on how media and social media is transforming interactions between people in general and the impact it could have, along with some predictions on where this could go.

While in the past I have offered judgements and may have come across as pre-judging, I’m doing my best to refrain from that now and really stick to just observations, I’ll be failing at this, but, I’ll be trying not to.

There’s a pandemic at large which is devastating the world, and I use the following analogy with no slight meant towards the pain that it is causing the world.

There’s an epidemic going on the internet, I like to think of it as a clamour for clout.
In a sense there is a general belief in the power of influence, in a world with few adherable rules, influence counts for something, but, what if everyone has influence?
One of the sentiments that is clearly an undercurrent of where we are as a people is in the notion that fake it till you make it is not just advice, it’s a path to follow for life with little or no end in mind except for this clamour for clout. The bigger problem is in what ends up being faked.

The overhanging idea is that with enough influence there is wealth to be generated, or such influential currency is tradable in some way to get to where you want when the time comes. There’s obviously no harm in trying, but, it does take quite a bit of effort as does anything else of value.

Now, as with anything else that has value, this influence must be a good or service of some kind for it to be tradable.

Now, such goods can either be rivalrous or non-rivalrous, to me it seems like we’re reaching a point where such influence is slowly becoming rivalrous, simply because we’re tapping out on who can be influenced in what way by whom.

Before I get into that, I’d like to get back to the general point about the clamour for clout. I rarely do this, but, this time I’m going to use someone I briefly knew as an example without revealing their identity to elaborate on what I mean around the fake it till you make it bit.

This person is someone reasonably proficient when it comes to their skillset, a good amount of credibility on that front, but, after a couple of hurdles with what they were chasing, they’re now taking the back seat and instead posting motivational quotes online, catch here is that its their own motivational quotes, about how to make it in life, they’re also selling access to ‘better’ ? motivational quotes and quotes printed on mugs, wallpapers, prints and the like.

In general creating an internet brand for themselves. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, it’s to me just an indicator of what we’re trying to fake in order to make it.

The whole point of dress for the job you want, not the job you have, fake it till you make it etc, was to adopt a mindset that would enable you to achieve your goals, I think this has been modified ( i was going to say perverted, but, that seems a bit harsh ) to instead fake it until you get such tradable influence that you can make it.

Another trend that has become viable and visible over the past few years the ability of anonymous accounts with no known credibility to exert influence and have a voice online, to me, this is purely virtual trend, the ability to be anonymous and exert influence is a luxury afforded to the thinnest possible slice of all humans to have ever existed, less so today than ever before, but, this is easily done in the online world.

I see a lot of advice floating around about building a personal brand and how that’ll help with everything in the future. I agree with one part of this, it does provide a reasonable hedge against uncertain events, enough examples to validate that, where the influence or the goodwill generated as a result of such clout is helpful in withstanding setbacks, this year has been a great example of that.

But, I question whether it helps you make it, more so in the future.
As brought up earlier, we’re now saturating again in terms of who can be influenced, there’s still a billion odd people left to reach, but, in general we’re tapped out. User growth across platforms has slowed down, the new ones show growth only because the same people are migrating onto a new format, not because there’s new people coming onboard.

Which brings me back to the point about rival goods and influence becoming one such rival good.

Once influence truly does become a rival good, it logically means that the tradability of this influence goes down, what happens then ?

I think of influence as honour, some respect or credibility afforded to a person because of who they are.
But, the truth is we know very little about who people are online that they choose not to reveal themselves. The rest is hidden as a result of just good brand building.
With anonymity, we know nothing.

Which is why this post is titled Honneur sans Valeur.

Valour used to be the hedge that people with honour had in case things came crashing down at some point. A war vet, a great musician, a business magnate are all persons of honour regardless of the institution they are associated with, mostly because such honour was earned as a result of what they had achieved.

Today, not all, but, quite a large chunk of influential people have earned such honour because of who they are rather than what they’ve done. Most of them are harmless and in fact, helpful, quite motivational in some ways, but, once the tradability of such influence starts falling in general, which I expect will start happening quite soon, what will be their hedge ?

I’m not too sure, this is maybe a topic to explore in a later post.

I’d love to hear what you think on this, it’s very likely I’m way off on this matter because of how little time I actually spend on social media, but, I just wanted to pen things down for what its worth. After all, the best way to find the right answer on the internet is to give the wrong one.

Thank you for reading