PR/Marketing, Social Media
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The social media system is incredibly rigged.


Yesterday I was watching Luo Pang and got really disturbed, because I suddenly realised that the social media system is incredibly rigged. To the extent that the public is on social media to get information, but social media becomes the tool by which reality is obscured.

LuoPang’s video was on the topic: “How do you get famous on the internet?”

Using the example of Douglas MacArthur, Luo Pang highlighted two characteristics which made him famous in the media then:

  • You must have a background that sets you apart from your immediate environment— rich parents, outstanding something something, for instance. For MacArthur, it was a military background and a father who is not only rich, but distinguished in battles.
  • You must be a great performer and image manager. You need to make use of fashion to attract the media/reporters to take photos of you. For MacArthur, he uses props (big hats, big pipes) to make the media take photos of him. Your image must be a fascinating one.

And after that, Luo Pang posited:

There are two types of thinkers, and by extension media darlings. One of them is the “Hedgehog”.

“Hedgehog” types only know how to do one thing, and do it really well. Whenever an enemy approaches, they’d just curl up into a spikey ball. Hedgehogs focus on a niche, and spend their lifetime building on it. MacArthur was argued to be the hedgehog type.

The other type is known as “foxes”. Foxes know a lot of things, and they are more cautious in the way they act. They plot, are sly, and plan. They are unsure about a lot of things, but sure about a lot of things too. Things are fluid, multi-layered, in diverse forms–to foxes.

Hedgehog types would initially get a lot of media attention, and it is their challenge to maintain it. However, because time and space are limited, hedgehogs will make the people around them jealous because if attention is focused on you, less attention is focused on someone else. In addition, hedgehog types might also forget about the network that they are supported by, and start offending people.

And here’s the very important part:

By design, the very system of social media will necessarily give more than proportionate attention to the “hedgehog” types. 

That is to say, the internet rewards niches and a single point of attention. The online world is never about truth in the first place. The celebration of “noise” is legit from all perspectives–SEO, keywords, SEM, content marketing, etc.

This implies that whatever you are bombarded with is never neutral. This is scary, isn’t it? Your consciousness is, from the start, filled with biased information–because the internet is rigged to give more attention to hedgehog types.

This is why Trump gets way more attention than Hillary–for the former is the Hedgehog type, the latter is the fox type.

So what Luo Pang is truly saying is that foxes are more likely to succeed in reality, because they take into account more things than hedgehogs. In political terms, this is why PAP won a landslide victory in 2015 in spite of turnouts in record numbers to opposition rallies.

Therefore, for the hedgehog to play the media to its advantage, it should actually consider (1) sharing the limelight with others, and (2) also to always take into consideration the network that it is supported by.

Ultimately, Luo Pang is highlighting to all of us how deceptive social media and the internet can be. What you see online might well be the direct opposite of what is offline.

Don’t trust what you see, don’t trust noise, don’t trust words.

Trust one thing: Verifiable results.


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