modern society graphic

Modern Society

How in the future we will adapt to this “social network” and instant gratification.!? In an insane ad-based society with more influences than physiologically able to comprehend, we ride on this journey of technology that is doubling in memory and functionality exponentially. It’s not a question of whether we can handle this. We can. If people are good at one thing it’s adaptation.

I hope musicians and artists aren’t merely becoming famous by getting the most “likes” on Facebook or tweets in Twitter.

Let me start this by getting to the point: There will be no one as famous as the Beatles or Picasso ever again. They were among the last to live with the possibility of THAT much media exposure.

It comes down to more than media, it’s not really “they” who caused this explosion in fame and exposure. (whoever “they” are). Before Napster there was MTV. Before YouTube, their was America’s Funniest Home Videos. Before Google there were libraries. With all this free content we still demand more. We certainly don’t want to pay for it, that’s for sure. Surely this is human nature in the finest sense; besides sex, wealth, and power, we want to be entertained. As the market for sentimental value decreases, marketing campaigns spring up and shift the profit margin for their gaines in marketing the childish needs and wants of others. It only makes sense that companies and large online corporations would like to channel this hardwired emotion for profit. What better landscape now than online real-estate? Like the media, corporations aren’t at fault either. This isn’t about that. It’s about evolution. Besides, can you really blame them?

“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” —Chuck Palahniuk.

No way this couldn’t have happened. You’ve probably already figured this out. It’s seen as a good thing to take as many shortcuts as possible and live a life where everything you could ever want is at your fingertips as soon as possible. Take a pill—but I won’t even start with that.

Before Napster there were CD’s and records on vinyl. Before cameras there were paintings. Now that music can be accessed and downloaded practically anywhere now and art can be seen on an image search what continues to give this work value? It’s hard to say. Although it’s certainly “important” to honor those artists who are dead —Those that lived in another time-frame and gave rise to our ideas of the time— we can’t even pretend to understand how they thought anymore. We’ve already seen it all…

Well, now we’re in this service industry of sorts, and while there is still a wizard behind the curtain, this is the case where he represents another slick sales campaign trying to be clever purchased by a larger service industry (network) for pennies on the dollar —All to tell you some new solution for a problem you didn’t know you even had. Some comfort and relief from your anxiety. A way to improve your life.

The goofy analogy my Sunday school teacher used about our minds being like sticky tape and attracting everything that makes contact with it “unclean” and full of sin isn’t too far off from what happens to you when you are watching TV, browsing the internet, or even driving on the highway. “we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 a day today.” —link).

With all of this digital noise the big question I have is how can we stand out? Keep in mind I’m writing this with artists in mind primarily.

From The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Pg. 121, Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor.

“Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporarily withdrawal from it will make you talked about, even more, admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.”

“Authority: Use absence to create respect and esteem. If presence diminishes fame, absence augments it. … Talents lose their luster if we become too familiar with them, for the outers shell of the mind is more readily seen than its rich inner kernel. Even the outstanding genius makes use of retirement so that men may honor him and so the earning aroused by his absence may cause him to be esteemed.” —Baltasar Graciân, 1601-1658

Simply put What is rare is more valued. If your talents are not rare you must find some way to make them stand out.

“The Smoky Mountains are a rare jewel. … Why not have a place where you can still see the stars? There is a value to keeping things primitive.” —James Daweson

What is seen as the unknown is what makes us curious. What makes us curious gives us energy and arguably the desire to discover. Maybe it’s the unknown that draws people together. Either way, being unknown without being popular just isn’t interesting anymore.

Popularity adds value in our quick fix “pre-selection” mammalian brain (the part responsible for language, abstraction, planning, and perception.) Popularity also grants exposure. Without exposure, you might as well be a flag folded up in a shed. More common than ever the strategy for today’s artist is getting the most attention… the third choice. Too bad this same strategy is being used by every form of advertising and entertainment.

Let’s take a step back and ask a question.

Why is being popular so damn important?

I’m surprised more artists haven’t become famous through campaigns to get likes & tweets.

Even if they did would it really matter? Wait another year, month, week, day, hour, 20 minutes, three seconds, or scroll the list of “famous” names to get your fix. Simply put things are happening so quickly that one can never keep up with “mainstream” news, celebrity gossip, trends, events, deaths, stock trades, family obligations, birthdays, names, faces, favorite cereal, etc.

What happens when word fame becomes like the word awesome? Watered down and no longer relevant except in concepts relating to sub-par excellence? So what happens when there is no such thing as mainstream fame?

It seems that factions are more likely to spring up. Dominant culture will forever live up to its definition but respect for it will be like those of sheep following their shepherd. It makes me wonder if services advertising their current front-page magazine celebrity won’t take on the form of digital channels. We already have radio and TV channels. Why not an online one? Of course, this is happening already. Since content is basically free money must come from advertising, which is getting more and more difficult for them because no one remembers any of their ads (it takes an average of seven exposures to an ad to even recall seeing it). The ironic thing about this is for those who work in advertising. They face the same fate as the providers they financially supported —They will become lost in the crowd and become just another fish in the sea. Will companies seeking to be caught on the lure of their own 15 minutes of fame connect to relevant popular music like Justin Beiber to be remembered? As this trend takes off it too will collapse under its own weight and become dispersed. For this is the way things seem to be playing out.

Smaller and smaller interest groups will mix and personal choice will no longer become a decision as an infinite choice will the standard. Advertising will begin to stop shouting at the lowest common denominator because the bottom line is so low that no one can even find it anymore. Commercials that appealed to everyone will probably be something your children will read about in their history books “when people still watched TV”, which undoubtedly will favor and mention certain trends as a last-ditch effort for corporate exposure. There are just too many things going on. No one will probably even notice and from a marketing standpoint, this is probably a good move. In the end, only the icing on the cake will be remembered anyways. These days who has the time to care about that stuff anyway.

Stop caring about how popular you are. Focus on your own group and become your very own tribal leader. Don’t you see it? Having unlimited options for media exposure is just the same as having none at all. Once you get down to brass tacks you must realize that there are no quick fixes anymore for fame and a reputation. Even if you manage to slip through the cracks, you are still just a flash in the pan. Sure this technique might have worked in the good ol’ days when all you needed was a headline in a major newspaper, journal, magazine, to stand out and be remembered. Today publicity is important but in a much different way. First, you must become find your unique talent and control your niche. Gain followers who think as you do. Win the respect of your peers by supporting their work. Ignore the things you cannot have, for acknowledging the petty problem of getting likes on Facebook or winning that photo competition gives its existence credibility. The more attention you give to an enemy the stronger you make that enemy. It’s your choice: You can spend your time within all of the weeds looking for a place to stand tall and see the river or you can turn your back and find the path that leads into the water itself.

In summary, quality over quantity and ease of access is essential. Create work that forces the viewer or listener to experience. In today’s culture of quick fixes, touch-screens, and headphones your audience will thank you. Experiences cannot be bought or sold. Experiences transcend all of our consumerist tendencies and go straight to the heart.

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