Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Social status while social-distancing - response to Tyler Cowen

Some quick thoughts generated by reading Tyler Cowen's, Isolation Changes Everything for Status Seekers

In Isolation Changes Everything for Status Seekers, Tyler Cowen writes,

The desire for status and approval is one of the most powerful human motives. It induces us to work hard, dress well and engage in conspicuous consumption, such as Instagramming our fancy vacations. But with the rapid advent of Covid-19, most of those options have been whisked away from us. 
The plunge in status-seeking behavior is yet another way in which the lockdown is a remarkable and scary social experiment.
With Eugene Wei's Status as a Service (StaaS) ringing in my ears, it's hard to believe the premise - that status seeking behavior has plunged.

Folks who rely on in-person status displays probably have seen their go-to options whisked away, but online options status displays ostensibly remain potent, and gaining power. 
Think:Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram (still), custom Zoom backgrounds, and the list goes on (From Netflix Party to Zoom: The internet apps getting us through quarantine). 

What may be true now is:

  • Personal status is now more confined to the relatively small groups someone was in pre-social distancing
  • It is now harder to earn exogenous status 
What hasn't changed though is, as Eugene Wei put it, "People seek out the most efficient path to maximizing social capital." There are still plenty of ways to maximize social capital today.

To wrap, some questions to ponder: 
  • What in-person paths will not return?
  • What in-person paths will gain even more status?
  • What existing digital paths will find new audiences?
  • What new products will emerge to satisfy and amplify status-seeking?

Example added 4/19/20 AM - Clubhouse

Via TechCrunch: "Clubhouse blew up this weekend on VC Twitter as people scrambled for exclusive invites, humblebragged about their membership, or made fun of everyone’s FOMO. For now, there’s no public app or access. The name Clubhouse perfectly captures how people long to be part of the in-crowd."