Normies, Status, and Substack

In regard to status, it’s not about how much money you earn, but rather the size of your megaphone. Obama is hardly among the wealthiest in the world, but commands a huge megaphone in terms of his influence. Normies, even wealthy normies, are stuck having little influence despite otherwise projecting the outward appearance of success, such as a nice house, nice car, good clothes, etc. For normies to gain social status requires a combination of connections and luck, whereas smart people can gain status through skill, without luck or connections playing as much of a role.

In the past, having material possessions–a big home, fancy clothes, jewelry, a luxury car, etc..–conferred status. Although material possessions still matter to some degree, more than ever, instead of flashing wealth, such as Rolex, which is really just an overpriced timepiece and not nearly as impressive as the ads suggest, wealth and status is bestowed upon the intelligent and brainy, who who flaunt their intellect. For example, on Substack writers are making thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars a month in subscriptions by publishing newsletters about obscure, technical, non-mainstream stuff such as economics or ‘rationality.’ An individual with a popular Substack newsletter reaches far more people and thus has a bigger megaphone than even an executive or other professional ‘normie’ who earns hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars a year and has great material and career success. This means normies are stuck on the normie-track of chasing clout and never really getting it, no matter how successful they are at their jobs or how many homes they have. Sometimes they turn to politics in the hope of having the social influence that their professional career failed to impart.

But it’s not just about c-suite executives, but, in general, for normies to gain status, as in having a large megaphone, requires a combination of luck and or connections, as they cannot do it by intellect alone. Unlike high-IQ people, who can succeed through raw intellect by producing meritorious, quantifiable individual results, normies have to rely on timing/luck (such as being early), connections (knowing the right people who can give them a signal boost such as through collaborations or ‘plugs’), or various gimmicks and performative actions (such as activism, protests, making noise, etc.). Normies cannot just start writing 4,000-word ‘think pieces’ on technical stuff and begin raking in thousands of dollars in subs overnight (in which case, the phrase “if you build it (or write it), they will come,” really is true, as the demand for complicated, esoteric stuff is apparently quite large, and such articles tend to go viral).

As evidence of this, you may notice that many of these popular YouTube ‘vloggers’, especially in cryptocurrency, tend to be somewhat dull and whose audiences are also composed of equally dull normies. They succeeded not by necessarily having anything intelligent or insightful to say, but by being early and starting a channel back in 2006-2012 or so, when there was much less competition (more eyeballs relative to the quantity of content producers) than there is now. This is especially true in cryptocurrency on YouTube, in which almost all the popular channels were started in 2013-2016, when it was still early. When the crypto and ICO market surged in 2017-2018, all these newbie investors looking for information flocked to these channels created by normies, who lucked out by having this sudden influx of viewers. Now everything is saturated, so to gain an audience requires ingenuity and insightfulness, not just hype, stating the obvious, or regurgitating stale content.

Although normies are an object of ridicule online, they are the bedrock of society. You cannot have a functioning society of only people writing ‘hot takes’ and 4,000-word Substack articles. Cold/cringe/stale-takes (“dems r the real racists!”) is the price we pay to have infrastructure, utilities, shelves stocked with food at the food store, and other things we take for granted.

But normies may be demanding to be heard. You have all these people with six-figure or more incomes , some in blue collar jobs and who voted for Trump, who feel left out of the ‘national dialogue,’ whereas colleges grads with debt and no families are controlling the narrative. It’s like we live in a society in which the socially and fiscally responsible don’t matter and are closed off from this dialogue. The Capitol protests can be viewed as a ‘normie uprising’ of sorts, in which thousands of low/average-status people collectively took to Washington to make their grievances about the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election known, if only for a fleeting moment before things were returned to normalcy. Despite the gravity of the situation and the worldwide media coverage, can you name any of the protestors? How about the guy with the horns? Or the individual seen defiantly grinning at the camera after having absconded with Peloci’s lectern? Or the individual photographed leaning back in Peloci’s chair and feet nonchalant propped up on her desk? That is what makes normies, normies–collectively, they can have an indelible impact (the Capitol riots will go down in history), but, individually, they are forgettable. Non-normies are the opposite in that , individually, such as through their intellectual accomplishments, are memorable, high-status, and important, but collectively, they tend to have less influence and a smaller impact, at least directly (it is hard to imagine Substack writers collectively getting the same intensity of media coverage that the Capitol hill protestors or the George Floyd BLM protestors engendered).

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