Rise of the Memeocracy — and its cost

We reward the ability to win attention with fame, validation and money. But that comes with a psychological price.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

James Rush explores the new nature of fame, where income is directly proportional to the amount of attention you can generate single-handedly:

Bregoli is an example of what I‘ve termed the ‘Memeocracy’. It overtook and supplanted the meritocracy in the early part of this century. It is a system set up via social media that rewards people with money and prestige for attention rather than talent. Bregoli and those who have engineered her rise hijacked a psychology that favours outrage over hard work.

Of course, it could — and should – be argued that the ability to generate attention is a form of talent. But we should still be cautious about the sort of talents we choose to reward…

Equally, we should be aware, as a society, of some of the consequences of the attention markets we're building. This recent BBC piece explored that:

There's a couple of stand-out points in there. The role of algorithms in making life more pressured for successful creators is certainly part of it – and is one of the reasons we're seeing the ethics and morality of algorithms discussed more and more — but so, too, is the unhealthy validations cycle that simplistic analytics like Likes give to our discourse.

As I explored for NEXT Conference, we are augmenting our social world with these digital tool - and the current wave of content creators are our guinea pigs. There are going to be consequences above and beyond the accidents we've already seen.

influencerssocial media celebsattentionattention economymemesmental health

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 25. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.