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

Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.