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Creativity Quotes Social Media

The Popularity Bias

You are whatever you pretend to be.


Popular people are more attractive. Popular things are more appealing. What’s popular grows in popularity by default through the network effect.

High school is a popularity contest. This game extends into the adult world. The App Store ranks apps by the number of downloads. Once anything (apps, books, music, garden hoses) reaches the charts or the Best Sellers list, it can stay there for weeks.

If you want to be popular, you have to market yourself and talk louder than others. Trump isn’t the best candidate; he just speaks louder and makes his opponents look stupid. Starbucks makes mediocre coffee. But Starbucks is synonymous with coffee like soda is to Coke. Advertising helps cement the popularity of both Trump and Starbuck brands.

You are whatever you pretend to be.

Kurt Vonnegut

People confuse popularity with quality. They’re duped by a large number of Instagram followers and likes, which are often fake.

It’s stupid people that are making stupid people famous.

Everyone wants to be the next big thing, but no one does anything disruptive enough to stand out. Conformity leads to short-term success. Meanwhile, the misfits bask in anonymity, often producing innovative and timeless work.

“true believers challenging the status quo never complain, they just go on their merry way, sowing their seeds, waiting for the world to catch up with them.”

Bob Lefsetz

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of four books.