How influencers become brainwashed by their audiences
New Gurwinder-post days are my favorite days. Truth bombs for all!
As usual, you knocked another one out of the park with this wonderfully insightful and illuminating piece. Would you liken this to imposter syndrome, in that you begin to imagine yourself as someone you're not in order to keep up appearances?
Damn this is so well written and hits hard.
I felt myself going down the path of being captured by a potential audience earlier this year. I was in a LinkedIn growth cohort and was posting generic content for a few months. I started to gain followers, but I quickly noticed that I was becoming one of the multitude of LinkedIn 'influencers' who just posts the same mundane platitudes. Rarely anything of substance. Just vanilla motivational, "who's with me?", or sympathy posts that I can't stand.
So I ditched it and started posting things that were specific and important to me. My general rule of thumb is:
If it can be written by someone else and does not speak to my lived experience, then I should not post it.
That was liberating and allowed me to unknowingly protect myself from audience capture.
My audience is growing much slower now, but the people who find me really resonate with what I create and I'm getting to know them. That's the way healthy and fruitful relationships are forged.
Excellent article, and what a grim fate that has overtaken Nikocado. But -- I want to point out that this kind of projection is common and pervades our everyday reality. What woman hasn't heard, "you need to smile more" or "talk nice" or "get your hair cut" or any of the innocuous little directions we might receive from our romantic partners or our work colleagues? And what about people who are not from the dominant white society? Aren't they required to put on masks in order to pass?
Dude, love your writing and your willingness to discuss things that uniquely interest you and then allow us to resonate with it or not.
The idea of building a personal brand has always felt a bit off for the points you mentioned. It’s always seemed a bit strange to find a specific niche within our personal/creative lives, as being human is inherently a process of discovery and experimentation.
Also, the ending to this essay reminded me of a chapter in Ryan Holiday’s book, Ego is the Enemy, in which he tells the story of a military trainer speaking with “high potential” cadets and encourages them to decide whether they want to be someone or do something.
Becoming someone is the path laid out that is the least in our control because as you mention, the path of becoming someone is dependent on who the people around us want us to become.
So although the external rewards may not come to those who aren’t the type of person others want, the risk of losing ourselves should be enough to persuade most of us to chose the path of doing something.
Love what you’re doing man, keep it up!
Brilliant post and terrifying examples. The Nikocado before & after pictures left my jaw on the floor. What a devil's bargain...
I dont know why but I remembered my time at school. I had classmates who asked me to stay with them because I was "fun" (according to them). I naively thought that I was someone great, but the truth is that I had physical and movement defects (I was a ridiculous guy by nature), so those classmates had created a mocking figure about me that entertained them.
When I tried to see the reality, they treated me cool, they wanted me not to notice, because if I realized that I actually funny people because of my deffects then I would feel ashamed and try to change, then I would stop be ridiculous and it would no longer be their entertainment.
Loved this. It makes me realize why some people I follow online have evolved in certain ways. Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity for starters.
Audience capture has a commonality with what many people call "mission drift", or "a confusing or inauthentic shift from one's initial focus". Perhaps it's the same thing. I see it especially in the way gay and lesbian advocacy groups basically abandoned the "LGB" cohort of their very reason for forming to embrace transgenderism and "queer identity" as their priority. But they use the identifier "LGBTQ+" to give the appearance that these cohorts are one big, happy family without conflict. Organizations like Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, even PFLAG, now openly pursue the trans/queer agenda in the face of vivid and disturbing conflicts with gays and lesbians. For example, GLADD, once known under the name of "Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation" disavowed their original name, opting for a simple pronunciation of the initials as "glad" but without the baggage of gays and lesbians or, it seems, anti-defamation. Their media guide on their web site declares the word "homosexual" as offensive and out dated and they teamed with word-processing app provider Grammarly to prompt users of the software who type "homosexual" to avoid its use because of its alleged offensive nature. That seems like open defamation and homophobia to deem a scientific term used by millions of homosexuals worldwide as "offensive". I promptly added "homo" to my Twitter profile in reaction to that. I really don't want to be dragged into defending what GLADD does any more since my entire homosexual community was essentially cancelled by them. They've gone off into absurdity territory.
Good read, very thought-provoking. Thank you 💚 🥃
One thing that goes unmentioned here is that an internet "audience" of any sort isn't necessarily real; because no "Social Proof" online can be trusted anymore. Bots, burners, influence ops, and the like are in every corner they want to be in, and can artificially swell audience numbers for their own transitory purposes.
Damn... speaks to my experience on YouTube and LinkedIn (as a creator) so eloquently and personally. Thank you so much for this.
Really, really enjoyed reading this! I guess it doesn't always have to have a negative consequence in that the audience might be really interested in the person who presents their real self. Their continued support/fandom might encourage someone even more to be their authentic self! They could help a person to blossom, maybe? Or would that not be audience capture, perhaps something else?😊
Sad but true. I've watched Maajid Nawaz go down the rabit hole the last couple of years with great disapointment. I actually unfollowed him on Twitter because he's now just a crack pot. The effect you speak of is not just something influencers experience on social media. It's how politicians re-calibrate. It's also how people re-calibrate in social circles where there's "culture" holding the thing together. Conformity to belong. Great read.
First, I love your writing so much that I was looking forward to the new post, and it is great.
Now on biases: Human mind is so prone to biases that it can't operate without them. In that sense, biases are not bugs but the operating system. An essay could be written in favor of biases, as without them the mind would be so lost it's crazy to imagine. Biases are the anchors for the mind.
That said, the attention economy has exacerbated the biases to the extent that is not normal. As such the biases fueled by these new mechanisms have become counterproductive and harmful. Hence the need for one to check their biases is more than ever today.
Great read and a lot similarities to playing professional sport. Gotta keep the fans happy or else.