Truth and Popularity : A Real Life “Black Mirror” Show?
On CNBC “Squak Box”, last month, venture capitalist and former AOL and Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya said :
“I think the [social media] tools that have been created today are starting to erode the fabric of how society works. Today we live in a world where it is easy to confuse truth and popularity, and you can use money to amplify whatever you believe, and get people to believe that what is popular is truthful—and what is not popular may not be truthful…
The reality is I can take money and I can use it through all these social medias that exist…and I can convince others of my opinion in very subtle and small ways, and others can do the same to me, e.g., vaccines, global warming, gay rights, Roy Moore […or perhaps even how to dress?].
The question becomes, is it possible to pay to manipulate people’s thoughts? Palihapitiya compares the social media feedback loop to taking drugs. The feedback loop “exploits our own natural tendencies as human beings to get and want feedback…and that feedback [creates] the release of dopamine in your brain…which gets you to ‘react’, and you need it over and over again–and you can get desensitized and become detached from the world in which you live…and you [end up living] in front of your screen.”
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Although how we may pay to manipulate thoughts was not discussed, examples may range from purchasing a Facebook promotion so actual followers are able to see all your content, to the less noble act of buying tens of thousands of Instagram followers in order to become a so-called “influencer” or self-proclaimed “public-figure” (the more crafty choose to purchase “drip-followers” so followers trickle-in and look more legit).
The above discussion further develops with other guests postulating that most of us have become addicted to the dopamine rush stimulated from the approval from others, with the Litmus test of the extent of your addiction being to disconnect for a few hours and observe whether a panic attack ensues or not.
So what does all this have to do with Pitti Uomo ??
Pitti Uomo is the world’s largest men’s trade show on earth and is held in Florence, Italy, each January and June.
“Pitti” is attended by clothing buyers and sellers, journalists, photographers, and self-promoters who wear lovely clothes and try to make a business model out of being photographed while wearing their best duds.
There is no question that social media has a monumental influence on promoting the aftermath of this extravaganza, where countless images of well dressed gentlemen and dapper ladies are blazoned across every major social media option–with full realization that these images will linger for years.
Taking notice of our hunger for approval, not only by the real life person you happen to be speaking with face-to-face–but also by tens of thousands of people on social media, may cause us to reevaluate how we communicate and how we write–questioning our intentions and our motivations.
It’s time to think about how interacting with others has morphed into some sort of desperation for popularity.
It’s also time to think about whom we are writing or posting for—ourselves or our audience? Upon examination, we can recognize a deep-rooted risk of gross self-absorption.
Catering to the need for reassurance can become a sort of illness to be kept in check, much like gorging ourselves on candy bars can feel good, but can also harm our health and appearance.
Today we’re all a journalist on some level, when we post on social media.
But remember, half a century ago, real journalists sought to write interesting stories, stimulate an exchange of thoughts, share funny anecdotes, ask for feedback on a subject, offer advice based on experience, and of course, provide news. Other people wrote letters to ask how friends and family were doing, all the while updating loved ones on the events in their own lives.
Have we moved into an era where the most important thing to us has become to impress others and appear in vogue–scrambling for a hit of dopamine via likes, hearts and thumbs up? Conversely, can a deficit of positive feedback plunge us into depression and cause us to question our self worth? Unfortunately, this isn’t an episode of “Black Mirror”. This is what’s happening. This is real.
As we look at the following brief report of the goings-on of Pitti 93, let’s look on with fresh eyes, and appreciate style for what it is, a beautiful form of self expression–not an indicator of popularity of those featured.
FIVE STYLE OBSERVATIONS OF PITTI UOMO 93
1. Fresh Navy
Trendspotter.net featured an extreme comeback of Navy-everything :
We predicted it here several years ago, and now it seems micro-checks have come full circle and featured in the GQ Pitti 93 report :
3. Brown and Green Overcoats
Styleforum’s report was chock full of brown and green overcoats (including soft mint green). Casentino overcoats continued to be present, but usually with toned-down shades rather than the shocking hues of Pitti’s past:
4. Man Bags
In the Pitti Immagine Uomo Pitti 93 Report, we see an intense focus on man bags in numerous images by Adam Katz Sinding :
5. Corduroy Heaven
We admit that we fully expected to see much more Corduroy at Pitti Uomo this year, as we have spoken to menswear enthusiast after enthusiast who is hankering for a corduroy ensemble. We witnessed sporadic cord-wonders at Pitti 93, particularly with odd trousers…but we believe the corduroy suit is the new next thing on the horizon for Winter Pitti Uomo 95 (and we’re taking the risk and calling it now).
On the beat, is Erik Mannby, Editor-in-Chief for Plaza Uomo, who is wearing a superb cord suit crafted by Jussi Hakkinen.
Credit : Opening featured image and above photo by Fabrizio Di Paolo
And one other great example from the GQ 93 Report:
A Summary of Pitti Uomo 93
All in all, Pitti Uomo 93 was a cornucopia of individual expression, ranging from the sober to mostly well-crafted extremes.
It appears that men are becoming more educated about how to dress, even reminiscent of the 1930s, when people had an innate sense of how to express themselves stylistically. The point that people are at last becoming sartorially educated is the positive side of mass media influence. Without social media images and commentary providing education for the sartorial curious, it’s unlikely Baby-Boomer fathers and mothers would have transmitted useful sartorial information to their children. We can admit that the Baby-Boomer age of camouflage cargo shorts and short-sleeved plaid button down shirts paired with REI hiking boots was limited in scope, and we also admit that in many ways, social media has been a godsend to the sartorial world.
However, the Squak Box episode discussed above, serves as a poignant reminder to pay attention to how we live our lives, our intentions, and our ability to keep our ego in check, because addiction, haughtiness and a pride-focused life can be the ruin of any good ensemble.