The Internet has given us many gifts - the freedom to express ourselves and share information instantly with people all over, new possibilites to make money online, the ability to truly work from anywhere in the world, and of course, many photos of cats and dogs doing silly things.
The internet gives us hope and sets our minds free… yet, that freedom has it’s limits.
Quite often, people are not clear on what they want and they are not sure of what to do with themselves. They are looking for answers and finding lots of them on the internet. The level of manipulation and misinformation is staggering. I plan on covering this in a post called “The War on Reality” - fow now, I really wanted to discuss the concept of what I call the “New Prophetic Age”… but first a bit of context:
The “Early” Web
Once upon a time the web was compromised of ~BBS~ simpler sites mostly molded in static HTML that relied on CGI and SSI architectures + some fun
<blink> animations. Access to information was becoming increasingly digitized and paper things like Encyclopedia Brittanica were becoming less useful.
The next phase of the internet is what some kids call “Web 2.0.” Everything started to become hyperconnected. By separating form and function, new technologies allowed for the flexibility of dynamically displayed content. Web applications became more interactive. Blogging started to become popular. Amazon became adopted by the masses buying school books… and, well Pets.com… Most users interacted with the platforms directly, but Ebay started to open up the possibility of something else… This is what Eyal Herzog calls the concept of a SuperUser. A term that previously only referred to the
root user on *nix systems… but I like the way he uses it. On Ebay, the SuperUser (Seller) is the one that attracts other users (Bidders) by working to post content (Items).
The “Social Web” quickly followed and the SuperUsers became the creators of content of all kinds. Today, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok - all of these platforms rely on a few SuperUsers who can attact the attention of hundreds of thousands to millions of people. Now, everyone wants to build for “creators” and there is truly a “Creator Economy” that is flourishing online. These creators are not just taking photos and writing stories, they are actually teaching and leading people. They have power.
The New Prophetic Age
These SuperUsers (influencers) have been able to make considerable profits by posting photos, videos, or writings online… but they have also become prophetic. Their followers will buy what they buy and believe what they say - tending not to do much fact-checking themselves… And so, more than any other point in my 40 years in the universe, it seems that people are looking for prophets.
In a way, moviestars have been our demigods for a long time. I always thought that if civilization were to be destroyed, archeaologists would think that our movie theatres were holy buildings and that the large people on the screen were worshippped as gods.
This is not too far from the way that people now worship their prophetic influencers.
In part, I believe that this is due to a gap in the culture that has previously been provided by religion. But also, people feel alienated from their physical communities and come to the internet to find their virtual communities that share their beliefs and world views. The algo of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram only heightens the echos of this myoptic world.
This can have positive and negative effects on reality. On the one hand, I follow and learn from a lot of great minds - but on the other hand, I know people who have become incredibly misled by internet prophets.
The Profits of Prophets
There is a multiplier: the more attention a prophet is able to garner online, the more profit they are able to make… Then, the more money someone makes, the richer they can seem to be. Being perceived as rich will get them even more attention - since they will gain followers who want money or advice about how to make money… and so, the cycle continues.
This is why being a prophet is a very profitable business!! People want to hear that their prophets have the answers!! So the more that an influencer seems to have the answers someone is looking for - the more attention that person will give - and on the Internet: attention = money.
The systems also compensate outrageousness and perceived wealth. There are many people who try to attact additional attention by pretending to be richer than they actually are. Why is this important? It’s because many people will generally take someone more serioiusly if they think that person has “made it.”
Therefore, seeming that you know how to take more money from other people than you give to other people makes you a sort-of role model for people who want to accumulate money. Then eventually, you end up with money and the prophecy is complete.
This is why we have all of these prophets (influencers) who are walking around posturing and pretending to be more important than they are or have more money than they have (I’m fairly confident that most people lie about this online and try to inflate their net worths) - just so that people will listen to them and think of them as an “expert” on basically any topic.
What can we learn
One of my favorite sayings is “Don’t hate, emulate” - and I believe this is a perfect opportunity to do that. When I find myself becoming judgemental and starting to hate on someone for something they are doing that is getting them what they want, I shift. I take a breath. I ask myself - “what is there to learn from this situation?”
What I have learned from my friends who have massive online followings (as well as massive haters) is the following:
- I must be brave and follow through with experimentation.
- I get to stand for something - it’s ok for me to take a position even if it makes someone turn against me. Fight for what I want or believe in any situation.
- Ask the questions that feel uncomfortable. If I don’t ask, then the answer will always be “no.”
- Forget who I think I am, experiment and don’t worry about what others think or thought. Their minds can change.
These are just some of my random thoughts about the cycle of the new propphetic age that the internet has gifted us through it’s evolution. Go and find yourself a prophet or become one! The world needs more people brave enough to stand for something and teach people the answers! Just follow the golden rule: “Don’t be an asshole.”