Last time we covered what culture is and a bit about why it is important. Today, we’ll look at a bit more on just how profound culture’s new place at the top is, and what it means for the individual.
Thanks to the internet, culture is now at the top of the food chain as far as forces go. If you can attract peoples attention, you can build a huge audience, monetize it, and shape culture. Economics still matter, but the fact that you can make a ton of money if you build up a million or more followers on a social platform changes the game.
But culture’s leading on economics goes beyond that. With less and less hardship required to simply sustain life, people shift toward luxury goods that are often, at least in part, attempts to signal beliefs or virtues for those around us. This is shaped largely by culture. The pushes toward diversity and sustainability are two large examples where the culture has led to tremendous investment in those areas, for better or for worse.
And we could go on and on with examples, but the point is this: culture matters much more now than ever because it moves faster and more effectively than it ever had before, and it exerts more and more control over economics. The saying used to be that politics was downstream of economics. Now, they are both downstream of culture.
Let’s look at three consequences of this for the individual:
One: it’s up to each of us to sway the culture around us, and to do so responsibly. Culture matters and scales more than ever, and so engendering good things will scale your benefit, while engendering bad things will have a cost. You may only influence a few people, but they too spread influence to others. While the world may seem more out-of-control than ever, you (yes, you!) are closer to influence than you ever were before.
Two: understanding cultural movements is becoming more critical both from a classical perspective as well as a mathematical perspective. Crowd dynamics are tough – almost impossible – to predict, but anyone who can at least provide insight into them will become even more valuable. The people who can sway them (now a vague group of people called ‘influencers’) could see a rise in value similar to that of the computer programmer over the past thirty years.
Three: the next step to all this is the cultural metagame. What’s that, you may ask? Put succinctly, it is the process of ingraining principles and concepts into the culture so that the evolution of culture is guided in a positive direction rather than a neutral or negative direction. If we can manage to understand how this could work, we can reverse engineer some beneficial steps for us to take rather than leaving ourselves at the mercy of a culture we’re all a part of shaping.