When TikTok really exploded, about a year before the pandemic, Gen Z as a powerful online cultural driver was born.
Digital natives, with short attention spans obediently followed the alleged agenda of the Chinese government, uploading reams of highly personal data, multiple times a day, with zero concern for their privacy, safety, or future employability, in exchange for the cheap dopamine hit of being 'TikTok famous'.
The emphasis was on receiving the 'hype' as fast as possible. Not on providing service or elevating the conversation on anything.
Later, the psychology side of the site evolved, but the emphasis was still on rapid creation and consumption, with payment of, essentially, narcissistic supply.
- Users wanted rapid transformation. They wanted the burden of obscurity to be replaced by the mass adulation of strangers.
- The desire for fame was nothing new, but the speed and need to pass the 'vibe check' and not be cancelled was.
- A paradigm shift in fortunes could provide enough fame and, possibly, money to protect a young person from the horrors of not getting their social inclusion needs met.
As a former Dot Com Pioneer, and a pioneer of the social media and blogging spaces, I was on TikTok early. When I saw the speed of growth, I was excited. But when I observed the group psychology there, I deleted the app.
Paradigm shifts can be powerful and necessary, but this one feels forced. It feels manipulated. It feels like manacles, not freedom of expression.
People shaking their butts for cameras to get pixelated praise doesn't feel like progress to me. I predicted it six years ago, though, and wrote a song about it, called Digital Beats in Analogue Hearts. Is it progress at all, or just addiction?
Let's take a step back and look at the alternative: Incremental growth.
If you grow your online business and brand incrementally, you may not get the mass adulation that being TikTok or Instagram famous could bring you, but that may not be a bad thing.
Fame freezes people in time. Are you how you wish to be remembered? Is this your 'final form'? If not, be careful. Fame typecasts people.
Do You Want Fame, Longevity, Or Both?
I've coached many famous people, and I started my career interviewing celebrities for both print and online media.
Doing so taught me a couple of things about fame.
- I didn't want it. I didn't mind being, as a friend of mine puts it, 'celebrity adjacent', but I didn't want to be big time famous.
I decided this aged 24, with a bunch of celebrities falling asleep on me at an awards after-party... again.
I'm kind of a celebrity whisperer. You know how certain people cause deep relaxation in wild animals? I'm like that with celebs. They habitually fall asleep on my shoulder or lap, like exhausted toddlers, which is what they often are.
- Fame is traumatic. And it's trauma that is public.
For longevity, you must be able to pivot. You must have moments of being more prominent, and others where you are more behind the scenes, working on novel ideas rather than playing to the cameras of the current culture.
For fame, you must be on camera all the time.
You must capture the zeitgeist continually.
You must always be in competition to be the most noticed.
You must be of the moment.
This does not bring longevity.
Is Rapid Fame a Curse?
Fame freezes you at a moment. The spotlight is on you, and you are supposed to continue to be that thing that made you famous.
- Your body and face must create the same impact, regardless of the natural process of aging.
- Your voice must keep doing that thing it did.
- Your mind must hold its labelled personality.
- You must be fixed eternally in place, like a butterfly pinned to a cork board.
But, one of the joys of life is having a growth mindset. It's evolving over time, in a semi-anonymous way. It's trying on different hats and personae while you play the game of self-actualisation.
The Risk of Being Left Behind
The risk you take with incremental growth is the risk of being left behind.
What if you could get First, or Early Mover Advantage?
What if you could be a Pioneer?
That's been my default setting, so I can see the value in it. But, it takes courage and patience to pioneer something. It's in the early stages that something glitches the most. It's in the early stages that the most mistakes are made. And those involved in the early stages may become the most famous or they may simply make the biggest losses. It's a gamble.
It makes sense right now to shake your bits to the hits on TikTok, but will that be something you look back on without a cringe in 5 years, when you're pitching a Venture Capitalist for money, your clip or voice has gone viral, and nobody can take you seriously any more?
Your 15 seconds of fame could really be just that.
Do you want to ride whatever wave is happening right now? The crypto wave that was going to the moon, only to crash, drowning so many in debt, looked so appealing as it peaked. It will do so when it peaks again. Wanna surf it? What did you do to your brain through the last wave? Think longer term than that. Play the long game.
Set Your Own Intentions. Stop Looking Sideways
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying paradigm shifts are a bad thing. My clients have them all the time. They can be amazing. But they MUST be intentional wherever possible, because they can create new situations that are completely beyond not only your control, but also your skillset.
This is where coaching can be a huge help. If you want to do the pioneer bit, do it, but have a coach by your side as you go. That way, you can skill up on the journey. It reduces the risk and reduces exhaustion.
Whether you decide to get a coach or not, though, you must stop looking sideways at your competition.
The journey is yours alone.
There is no competition.
Build the relationships with the people you know that you can help. When the time comes to help them, help them. You won't have to chase them. They will come to you.
And they'll seek you out because you're an expert in your field, not because you know how to point to words on a screen while you throw it back.
I believe in you.
P.S. Wanna chat? Hit the orange button at the bottom and set up a time. Whether you're looking for a paradigm shift or incremental growth, I got you.
Learn The Emotion Control System For Young Men That You Can Use in 5 Mins A Day To Stay Calm and Focused.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.