October 16, 2019

  By Gonzalo López Martí - Creative director, etc.  /  http://lmmiami.com/

  • Mimetic theory is a philosophical/anthropological concept subscribed by certain libertarian Silicon Valley types.
  • The most visible one being Peter Thiel.
  • Peter Thiel, as in outspoken Trump supporter and donor.
  • And early backer of a number of big moneymakers: PayPal, YouTube, Facebook, Linkedin, Palantir, etc.
  • The father of Mimetic theory is by René Girard, a Stanford university professor.
  • Thus, his influence in the tech world.
  • The principle of Girard’s thinking is that it is impossible for us humans to make fully informed decisions.
  • We know this, at least on an intuitive level, therefore we proceed to imitate other people’s behavior.
  • Here’s a brief description I borrowed from author Taylor Pearson:
  • “The Mimetic theory’s key insight is that human desire is not an autonomous process, but a collective one. We want things because other people want them. As more and more people want something and that object remains scarce, there is a conflict. This began as a natural phenomenon: animals and humans learn by imitating other members of their groups, but neither humans nor animals are able to differentiate between good, non-acquisitive mimesis (learning skills from others in your group) from bad, acquisitive mimesis (desiring scarce objects – money, fame, power, someone else’s mate, etc.) Girard believed that historically human societies managed mimetic conflict through the scapegoat mechanism. If the conflict over a scarce object became too intense, the community subconsciously choose a scapegoat which was sacrificed (literally or metaphorically). Traditional religions and rituals were ways of transforming the scapegoat mechanism into institutions which could then be used over and over to resolve the mimetic conflict. According to Girard, all of human culture is built on top of the scapegoat mechanism and its ritual repetition.”
  • Why am I bringing this up?
  • Because it is the underpinning of the entire edifice of marketing and advertising.
  • As an industry, as business, as a profession, as a craft.
  • Plus, it is the reason why Silicon Valle has stolen our thunder.
  • They might be a bunch of nerds but they have clearly shown a deeper understanding of human behavior than us Madison Avenue types.
  • To be continued.



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