2 min read

The Popular Kids, Caring About Everything, and FOMO

So long as popularity is the KPI, the quality of any platform will only erode over time.

1-minute 30 second read

This is my attempt at outlining two (of the many) gaps that social media creates: the contribution gap and the psychological gap.

Let’s start with the contribution gap:

To the outsider, a small percentage of users appear to be worthy of status. Meanwhile, underneath this furious sea of noise, the vast majority of the smartest onlookers stay silent—mostly due to feeling intimidated and self-conscious by the popularity of the few.

So long as popularity is the KPI, the quality of any platform will only erode over time. Because what gets Likes gets propagated. Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct correlation between quality and engagement. In fact, they are often opposites.

This cycle intensifies with every new class of popular kids. And the gap between meaningful contribution and engagement pandering grows wider. Repeat.

Next, the psychological gap:

I imagine that there’s a second gap that exists for many people. It’s between the FOMO about the buzzwords and the topics of the day and their desire to actually invest the time and effort necessary to properly discern if they are actually missing out on anything at all.

Take Web3 or crypto or climate or social politics or foreign affairs (or sales or marketing or…) as examples.

The amount of time that it takes to properly evaluate any complex topic, truly understand all sides of it, and come to your own informed opinion is something few are willing to undertake.

So what we get are two primary camps:

  • A large group with self-imposed FOMO who aren’t motivated to properly educate themselves on a “topic of the day”, but suffer the psychological pressure to participate. (Psst…it’s ok to not care about everything.)
  • A much smaller and much louder group of people who aren’t fully educated on [pick any given topic] but think they have an informed opinion and shout half-truths from the rooftops.

What we actually need is:

  • A place where those who are putting forth the effort to learn and grow can go to be more vocal and share their work and ideas in collaboration with others—free from the popularity complex. (Substack, podcasting, and apps like Callin have begun solving for parts of this.)
  • Self-awareness from those who aren’t willing to put in the effort to know that it’s ok to miss out.

Related: If you’re not familiar with The Current Thing, check out this article. It’s deeply related.

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