Do you recall a time when you “looked up to someone?” I mean this in the genuine possibly naive sense of admiration, not the specific act of being shorter than someone and looking up to meet their gaze.
As 5’3” female I’m basically always looking up. Alas I’ve found that genuine admiration is in much shorter supply in my adulthood than I was led to believe it would be as a child.
I’m sure some of this is the cynicism of my old age, but it’s hard not to notice the impacts of institutional distrust and 24/7 social media on admiration.
We know too much and it’s become harder to forget that homo sapians are irrational hypocritical reactive mammals whose our biology & culture engages us in nearly constant status seeking social games.
Sure you can blame Instagram for making us shallow mimics of prestige and power, but I’d bet your average anthropologist would be happy to walk you through the evolution of simian social dynamics. We’ve always been this way.
The additional complication is that we’ve come to expect more social mobility even as the gap between plebian and aristocrat has seemingly widened. Not that those terms have any static meaning. We no longer have strict birthright nobility as power has become more intertwined with economic power.
Nevertheless it would seem we expect, through such cultural innovations as the American Dream and capitalism, to have a chance at becoming high status ourselves.
It’s no wonder we struggle to find admiration when we see even the least impressive among us are rewarded with baffling sums of wealth, power and prestige. The term influencer is loaded for a reason.
And so our youth are despondent and depressed and our elites venal and sinful. The variance in personal outcomes has never seemed less socially satisfying. What do you mimic if the outcomes on display on your algorithms are at once impossible to achieve and derived from seemingly meaningless actions? I honestly don’t fucking know. You will have to figure that out for yourself now.