Culture Heroes

The human mind left unattended is bound by its functional purpose to imagine, predict, and emotionally react to the worst possible outcome. But only at the scale of minutes or days.

In matters of months, years, and decades, our default prediction patterns are worse than worthless, always assuming things will continue to be good if they are good now, and seldom preparing for future days of want and scarcity.

But luckily, the human mind has a startling capability to attend to itself.

We can watch ourselves doing something wrong and even look back at the delusional thoughts that caused our past mistakes.

We are all fools, but we are not blind fools. Through system and strategy, as well as good old-fashioned moderation and discipline, our worst tendencies can be accounted for, and our greatest gifts exploited to the point of compensation for our errors.

Any look back at the plethora of modern cultural heroes shows how willing we are to forgive those who did a few great things.

Generally, we ignore the mediocre, ridicule the bad, briefly enjoy the good, and revere the great with almost religious fervor.

The good is found in the bargain bin, while images of the great are plastered on every tee shirt next to 50-year-old records still being sold as if they were new.

It would be a noble, near perfect meritocracy, if not for the questionable taste of the general public and its strange tendency to occasionally latch onto something truly bad and elevate it to a position of taste-making for popular culture.

 

 

 

How to Spread Ideas

Ideas are viral and subject to many of the same rules as any other organism existing in a selective Universe. The primary rule of this selective process being that “Success” as it can best be defined for Organic systems, belongs not to the good, moral, or even the strong.

Success belongs to those ideas which by their very internal structure demand to be replicated and spread to other minds.

“No one should ever know what I think”

Isn’t a Viral idea in the slightest, because those who actually follow its message become unable to spread it to anyone else. No wonder very few people submit to this idea, and even fewer ever discuss it.

Now, an Idea such as:

“The human race will only avoid destruction if drastic action is taken to combat climate change”

is incredibly Viral, because it implies that humans(the viral host) will cease to exist unless the idea itself is shared and spread throughout the minds of millions.

It is fascinating to observe how many great ideas sets gain almost no ground in our culture, precisely because they contain no internal compulsion to spread the idea around to as many people as possible.

The most viral ideas imply rules and behaviors in their hosts that make even the uninfected more susceptible to infection. This effect compounds the more people come into contact with the idea, and so it spreads faster and faster until the pool of hosts is completely saturated. This phenomenon is well demonstrated by the spread of Christianity in medieval Europe. The more popular it became, the less secular thought seemed viable or shareable whatsoever.

This viral principle is consciously and unconsciously used by every authority and nearly every person who wishes to transform the beliefs and behaviors of others into something more similar to themselves and their ideal.

Is it distressing to know that morality and quality have no direct relationship with the effectiveness of an idea?

Or can we use this knowledge to mold great ideas into forms more accessible and shareable amongst the individual minds that make up collective culture?

The answers to those are of course, yes, and yes. But actually designing ideas so that they spread is incredibly difficult.

When was the last time someone unknown created a piece of viral internet content on purpose?

Manufacturing virality is challenging, but understanding how these forces play upon our psyche may help us to resist what would otherwise infect us, and forever alter our thinking.