For some years now, we know that we are living in a so-called “Age of Information”. My understanding of the “age of information” is that it does not only mean that we live in an epoch dominated by computer information, but also that we live in a time where information is key and essential to succeed. Being the one who breaks the story or who tells the truth seems to be the ideal in the age of information.
I thought about the world and its state and came to the conclusion that we are now rapidly leaving the age of information and entering a new age. Of course, being informed and knowing the truth will always be what matters to be able to create, shape and move things. However, being the informed person does not make one the “leader” anymore. In other words, with “fake news”, post-truth and conspiracies, the idea of information itself becomes for the general audience obsolete. You don’t have to be the one who is in the know to influence people and have them asking you for advice – at least, this is not the most important aspect of one’s importance anymore. We are now moving towards the Age of Charisma.
In a world where anyone can digitally manipulate anything, the truth doesn’t even matter anymore. We pretend it does, but for most people it doesn’t. All that matters is to push your agenda and have people reinforce your beliefs and the actions you want to take.
The world is turning into a reality show, a 360 degrees experience. People are streaming live content on different apps, they are posting Instagram stories and sharing their lives on social media. All these things are quick and snappy. They appeal to our most basic instincts and that is to judge something according to the person who says it. If someone good looking is saying something, we will listen and in most cases do as the person says. Ultimately, we are programmed to want to be around attractive people, as this indicates that they have good genes, which means that having them around, we can either mate with them and have someone powerful raise our children or provide for them or that we will be protected on a group level. And, in today’s world, where relationships are mostly volatile, about 80% of people are (even unconsciously) looking out for others to rely on than the people in their lives. Also, as relations become more and more superficial, there will soon be a very slight difference between the people you hang out with physically and those you simply follow on social media. This will happen at a mainstream level, whereas to a more niche level, physical groups will become a trend.
In very short, it’s not the information itself that makes one influent anymore. What matters, when it comes to consuming information is who conveys the information.
Moreover, while facts still can be debated, many times the facts are clear, but this is not of a very high importance anymore. We’re now in a time when opinion trumps facts.
Practically speaking, we are now living in the age of the blogger, the influencer. People with almost no capital, no talent and no facts have millions of fans through the internet. There are youtubers who have thousands if now hundreds of thousands of views to videos where they are saying absolutely nothing of substance. If you were to make a transcript of their speeches or dialogues, you’ll find that many of them are not even coherent sentences. Yet the fans are there. And they listen. They take action.
You see, most of the times, in society, the easiest way wins. If in the past, you had to really contribute to society to be adored, when the age of entertainment came by, many realized that they could be important even with little skills. With the advent of the reality show age, which is now extending into a all-around reality show, no skill is required anymore, just the looks and, not even that, but charisma.
Of course, there will always be people who will be part of other ways of doing things and who will do their best to be their best, but this is most likely the mainstream of the future.
This all is not to mean that it is not important to have the correct information – the Age of Charisma is something that exists mostly on the consuming aspect of information. In other words, people don’t require anymore that the information is accurate or true, as long it is provided by someone they enjoy. And this is the key for all those who wish to influence culture, politics and everything else. What matters today in order to be influent is not to have a quality product, to provide correct information or anything similar, but to offer an experience that people enjoy.