The Aristocracy of the Digital Celebrities and the Magical Thinking That Props It Up

This is possibly the most depressing blog post I’ve ever read. It’s the earnestness with which the author conveys the message that “influencers are rarely the people who move the needle in our life”, as if this was a genuine personal revelation that he now feels the need to convey in as gentle as tone a possible:

After scrolling for several hours, I came to a conclusion.

Some people–including me that night–spend too much time following top influencers.

If only I can get their attention, we think, then I’ll make it big.

As I scrolled, I thought about how hopeless some people may feel when they can’t catch the attention of that one influencer. I imagined how nervous that person might have felt as they crafted their Instagram pitch to Cuban, Vaynerchuk, or John.

Not everyone feels this way about connecting with influencers, of course.

But many do.

At the end of the day, influencers are rarely the people who move the needle in our life. Our success hardly depends on their attention.

Our success ultimately depends on the attention we give to our work, not the amount of attention our work gets for us.

By definition there can only be a handful of celebrities. As Goffman describes it on pg 68 of Stigma, by ‘fame’ we “refer to the possibility that the circle of people who know about a given individual, especially in connection with a rare desirable achievement or possession, can become very wide, and at the same time much wider than the circle of those who know him personally”.

Digital celebrity detaches fame from achievement and instead renders it a function of network position. To hope that one can “make it big” by “getting their attention” isn’t a career strategy. It’s not even an unrealistic hope. It’s magical thinking and I’m scared by the neo-aristocratic politics I could imagine it one day supporting.