One thing that allows us to dominate the animal kingdom is our ability to copy what we perceive as successful behavior.
This is why most learning is social learning, social copying, as it were. We see the cool kids wearing a new brand of sneaker, and suddenly we, too, are wearing the same brand of sneaker.
And if all the cool kids are selling Bitcoin, we, too are selling Bitcoin. Or buying Teslas. Or waiting in line for four hours at Austin’s Franklin Barbecue. And on and on it goes.
And that’s the funny thing about social media.
You see, most “successful” behavior in the real world is pretty ho-hum. Be nice. Be polite. Do your homework. Say your prayers. Be grateful. Work hard. Be a good neighbor.
But that ho-hum stuff doesn’t work on social media. What works on Instagram is outrageous behavior, namely, people getting away with it.
And because people on Instagram see these outrageous folk with millions of followers, they start associating outrageous behavior with successful behavior. Next thing you know, they’re trading in “Be nice, be polite” with “throwing soup over a Van Gogh” or mashed potatoes over a Monet.
And the collateral damage is huge.
Outrageous behavior can be taken too far as well, as Ye (Kanye West) is currently finding out the hard way.
The funny thing is, this time a lot of his brand partners are also copying what they see as successful behavior, and dumping him en masse.
It’s the other brand partners they’re copying this time, not Kanye.