The way we live now is wild. Reality television has mushroomed into a massive social media explosion. What people show on Instagram is sometimes as fake and scripted as what happens on produced reality television programming. At the same time, people are also sharing too much real information online a lot of the time in ways that professional media outlets wouldn’t, and for good reasons. When does transparency go too far and become a total lack of privacy? What guidelines should we be establishing to safely and effectively use social media? How is this dynamic driven by competition?
Is there any chance that we can work our way out of this mess and back into simpler times? Are we hunters, farmers, doctors, soldiers, influencers, cyborgs or what? People have taken on varied roles in different periods of history. Right now, we are in a period of historical transition and it is especially important to experiment and to envision new ways of doing things. Sometimes, those experiments and periods of growth might best be done in privacy for the sake of going through the process of trial and error without an audience.
Is it possible to grow and change for the better in a world dominated by social media culture? Or do we just have to change our attitude about cultural productions and the value of making mistakes in public. This might sound strange, but it happens all the time with podcasts. Sometimes a certain amount of dysfunction makes it more relatable to listen to. It’s more like real life. Some podcasts are so polished and produced you feel like you should brush your hair and put on some nicer clothes before you listen. Oftentimes we want something a little more relaxed.
Maybe competition is a normal human response, and the way it’s happening online is simply an extension of how we compare and debate the merits of each other’s lifestyle points in analog life. Martha Stewart was an influencer before there were lifestyle blogs. The number of people who are now able to create content and connect with an online audience is radically and exponentially increased. The Internet adds scale to lifestyle marketing in a completely new way. When it becomes interactive, it becomes much bigger and more differentiated. There is a lifestyle influencer for any imaginable cultural niche.
While this new media has also created a new economy, we are still working out how all these new forces function. We are in the infancy stages of social media and haven’t developed enough best practices to know what we are doing. It can be a wild and dangerous combination when businesses experience massive scaling through the internet and people are suddenly thrust into positions of immense power and responsibility. Since these massive fortunes have been created within our lifetimes, there is a learning curve like never before. We have new money, oh boy do we have new money.
Bezos, in talking about the infrastructure bill said that he hopes the initiative will help to keep a competitive advantage for the US. His official statement reads: “We look forward to Congress and the Administration coming together to find the right, balanced solution that maintains or enhances U.S. competitiveness.” In that statement you can grasp something of our reality. We don’t live in isolation; we exist in competition. We have to remain aware of external threats to our security. If we don’t do this, they might do that. Businesses may be multinational, but they have national roots. Lifestyle might be the focus of a majority of social media, but it is made possible by macroeconomic and geopolitical concerns.
The policy of the US has historically been isolationist, but in a world with internet and nuclear weapons that is absurd. We are interconnected, and we have to figure out how to make that reality work best for the common good. With the Internet, that means business and social networking opportunities. While we strive to grow and connect to more people, the sense of our identity comes into play.
As long as our interconnectedness comes with the threat of violence, with an attempt at domination, then we will continue to make decisions that give us a competitive advantage. There are some situations, even in a world with hostile threats, where being competitive is counterproductive. If we want to enhance our competitive advantage, then we should be working on creating a stronger sense of team spirit and camaraderie, but we should also look for opportunities for cultural exchange. We most likely have more to gain from transacting with each other than we have to fear from losing our competitive advantage.