Clout-Chasing And The Gamification Of Social Media
Tech|May 13, 2021

Clout-Chasing And The Gamification Of Social Media

Social Media Continues To Bring Out The Worst In People, Writes Ian Miles Cheong.
Ian Miles Cheong

Clout-chasing is a disease; that wouldn’t exist without technological advancements that have allowed and encouraged people to engage in narcissistic tendencies. 

Thanks to the ‘gamification’ of social media, users are encouraged to do increasingly outlandish things for attention. 

This might come in the form of simple self-validation for posting political or social hot takes, but it often transgresses the realm of social media by invading the real world, hurting others for the sake of ‘content creation’. 
Attention is then rewarded with sponsorship agreements, encouraging others to participate, if only for their own claim to fame.

The boundary for the average Joe or Joanna to obtain social and cultural relevance was smashed with reality television in the early 2000s. 

While most shows were based around a competition of sorts, fame-seeking contestants attained fame for more than just their talents at the expense of dignity. 

Viewers, influenced by television, tried to replicate the style of programming to obtain fame on MySpace. Early social media was a groundswell of future talent like Jeffree Star; so it’s no surprise many tried to leverage the popularity of live action television to launch their own YouTube careers. 

With the demise of MySpace, YouTube reigned, and with its rise came clout chasers performing increasingly bad pranks that were staged and even deadly. 

A woman shot her boyfriend to death in 2017 after staging a fatal YouTube prank involving a Desert Eagle handcannon and a telephone book, which did little to block the bullet. 

As social media evolved, so too did clout-chasing. Now-defunct Vine, Instagram, and TikTok have provided ample opportunities for people to create increasingly  low-effort productions in the pursuit of fame. 

They're the one-hit wonders of the social media world, and there's no shortage of their spawn.

Success stories like Jake and Logan Paul are exceptions to the norm, having first obtained fame through Vine stunts. 

But for every successful Viner or Instagrammer, there are a million others whose only claim to fame is widespread derision. 

Larz, a 20-something described by Dr. Phil as “an irrelevant YouTuber” obtained infamy after licking a toilet seat as part of the “Coronavirus licking challenge”. He’s not known for much else. Numerous others have been arrested for breaking into grocery store freezers and licking ice cream, or opening bottled drinks and spitting in them before placing them back. 

They’re the one-hit wonders of the social media world, and there’s no shortage of their spawn. 

Woke culture has also created opportunities for amoral clout-chasers to obtain relevance. Not content with simply creating stunts (or not having the balls or talent to showcase) internet antagonisers have leveraged cancel culture as a means to obtain the currency 
of victimhood through context-free videos intended to shame others and promote themselves as victims of racially or politically motivated hate speech. 

More than simply producing outlandish statements that would make most people wince, some resort to claiming victimhood by harassing strangers into responding badly towards them. Reactions are recorded and shared on social media. 
In some cases, clout-chasing backfires. 

A young socialite, Annaliese Nielsen, berated her Lyft driver over a Hawaiian hula girl dashboard ornament, and shared the incident on Twitter in the hopes of looking like a social justice warrior. She got the driver fired. The incident blew up in her face once conservative vlogger Lauren Southern reposted the video, titling it ‘SJW Berates Lyft Driver’, which got even more traction than the original video. 

The Lyft driver was exonerated, got his job back, and Nielsen erased all traces of herself from the internet. 

While most harmless efforts to pursue fame ultimately amount to nothing, it goes without saying that technology not only allows, but encourages otherwise normal people to go out of their way to do bad things by giving into their worst tendencies.

It’s only going to get worse. 


Image by Exotic Cancer.