Clout has dethroned competence. Technology has enabled us to scale our competence to millions. But it has also allowed us to capitalize on society’s engagement for clout, forgoing any talent or skill required.
I work in a tourist area where millions of people visit each year. Or at least this used to be the case pre-covid. One of the perks of working in one place for a long time is that you get to know the owners of practically every surrounding businesses. You begin to connect with the owners of medical centers, bankers, cafeterias, bars and restaurants. Over the years, you gradually understand how they built their businesses and their fortunes dating to this day. And one pattern that consistently emerges across all these owners, is relentless hard work. Doing 100 hours a week was standard for them.
Several months ago I was told by one of the restaurant owners that a new bar was moving on the corner. This corner location has failed at least six times despite the area being one of the busiest in the city. I think the placement on the corner led a blind spot to the visitors as they walked past directly to the hot spot. Nevertheless, after a few months of operation, it ended up being the busiest bar on the strip.
One night I was training at the gym with one of the owners who told me about this new guy that owned the new corner bar. He told me that this new owner was a young guy who was massive on Instagram with over one million followers. He is a influencer that does pranks, throws parties and runs a exclusive club memberships. When I briefly went on his Instagram, it was obvious that anything outrageous, extreme or sexual was permissible. All just to get clout.
I don’t really care what people do. But I do like to observe comparisons. On one hand, you have a handful of ‘back in the day’ business owners who provided value for years on end before leveraging their competence to reap the reward today. And on the other, you have your young Instagram influencer who has ‘provided value’ to millions, before leveraging the clout to reap the rewards for himself.
Has Value been Provided?
It’s a necessary question to ask whether you have really provided value to society. But more importantly, can you answer the question honestly? Are you providing value when you sexualize women and throw yacht parties? Are you providing value when you engage in extreme activities associated with harm, indirectly influencing thousands of young men to do the same? Put it this way, if you had the option to give your son a mentor, would you pick this influencer? Or would you select a business owner with a wealth of knowledge?
Not Everyone Can Think For Themselves
Most people act and behave in ways that suggests they don’t know what is good themselves. They are unsure on what choices to make and constantly need guidance. People are terrified to think for themselves. It’s partly why they cling on to religious beliefs. And if you tried removing this religious belief, it would quickly get replaced by another belief system likely to be infinitely worse. If you are a person who has the capacity to provide for society, you have a choice to make: you will either provide value on the basis that it benefits society, or be detrimental to it. And an excuse like “people are responsible for themselves!” is not going to cut it. Because you’re responsible for what you provide. It’s not up to the people to know that the water you are selling, is in fact poisonous.
I tweeted not long ago that ‘You have a choice; you either pay the price with blood and sweat to provide for society, and reap the rewards thereafter. Or you make society pay the price for you while you reap all the benefits’. I have increasingly observed this to be the case with social media. Go back a few decades – if you wanted to buy your financial freedom, you had to provide value to society that could benefit from. Today, that is no longer the case.
Today you can open an Instagram account, then go stand on top of Burj Khalifa in an attempt to gain viral fame while encouraging daredevil behavior to millions of misguided young men. You can sexualize women, put them on boats and build the engagement needed to generate the revenue. We have reached a stage that describes a different model of utilitarianism; a very dark variation. What used to be ‘making difficult collateral choices to benefit the majority’, has now transformed to ‘benefiting yourself at the detrimental cost to society’. And it seems that this new model is being adopted at a rapid pace. Because it’s easy and it requires no talent. It requires no upfront cost of effort and skill. It’s all paid for by the masses.
You Need To Decide
If you have the capacity that allows you to attain a position of leadership or influence, you have a choice to make. You can either become competent, maintain your character and provide your skill to the benefit of society. Or you can forgo all of it and leverage society’s engagement for clout, regardless of the harm it does to the people influenced by you. Technology has opened two doors; it has enabled men who are competent to scale the benefits they provide to society. And it has also provided the option for men to require no skill or talent, and simply make money at the cost of society’s misguided need for engagement. The former are a high value men. The latter are not.
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