What Is the Basic Human Need that Influencers Feed?

Jun 19, 2023
What Is the Basic Human Need that Influencers Feed?

There’s lots of talk about lifestyle influencers but not nearly as much talk about the need they satisfy. Especially in a time of uncertainty, I think, it’s our appetite for a sense that we’re in control, that we’ve got our act together, that we’ve got game, credibility, charisma.

Self-doubt is debilitating, so we try to avoid it. The easiest way to avoid it is through allegiance to lifestyle influencers who’ve got credibility we can imitate—influencers of all kinds: pop stars, religious leaders, makeover artists, public intellectuals, cult leaders, movie stars, political leaders. They all supply poses we can imitate. They offer a huge supply to serve our huge demand. It’s a pose economy. Pose-onomics if you will, the supply of and demand for inimitable poses.

Pose-onomics is everywhere. Teens pose emo, punk, nerd, hottie, jock, whatever’s hot this week. By adulthood, we may have settled into a pose that lasts a lifetime. If we lose our pose, we scramble for another. We’re all poser understudies mesmerized by influencers.

When I lost a lover, I looped sad songs about loss. No matter how sad the singers are, there was something dignified, charismatic, even badass about them, for example, the way they’d sing credibility about their victimhood and martyrdom at the hands of some narcissist ex-partner. I liked that. I needed that. It was like a serving suggestion on food packaging. Serve yourself up to the world like this. Adopt this pose to get your dignity back.

Likewise, the laid-off worker finds Fox News and adopts the pose of a genius political pundit. The divorcee buys a red sports car and adopts a young-again badass pose. Followers of religious leaders adopt the pose of righteousness. Followers of public intellectuals adopt the pose of a genius.

Imitation is easier than invention. Whether we lost our old pose or just want to up our game, we are the demand for poses that influencers supply.

Not that we care to admit that we have that demand. The pose economy is something of a black market. We lose credibility with ourselves when we admit we crave credible poses we can imitate. Other people might be lame, needy posers, but not us. Ironically, our poses give us confidence that we’re not posers.

The pose economy is demand-driven. Trump has mesmerized millions. As an actor he’s weak. He has no range. But some people can't get enough of him. To maintain their chosen pose, they need nightly reminders to keep doubt away. Fox News washes off their self-doubt.

I don’t think we can afford to overlook pose-onomics any longer. We need to shine more light on this black market. Many of our cultural battles are little more than conflicts between people who have subscribed to opposing poses.

We need the poses we can imitate. All of us. Imitation is easier than invention, and life is an anxious white-knuckle ride. I don’t begrudge any of us our demand for poses we can adopt. We’re social creatures looking for hints on how to feel credible and comfortable in our own skins.

We also need to see our poses for what they really are, to keep them from going to our heads, or else I doubt humanity will make it. The worst cults in human history were fueled by people who craved a credible pose and lurched toward any pose they could imitate to up their game.

Source: psychologytoday