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Human Behavior Technology

Empty Platitudes Plastered on Important Men

If it is the text that matters, then why lie about the source?

If you are one of the lame “olds” who still use Facebook and Instagram, you have come across a vaguely ‘inspirational’ quote with like this:

Even if you are not on these platforms, you have probably received them via text or seen them in a group chat. Except the celebrity never said those words. In this example, Denzel is not even on twitter. When an edgelord inevitably such as myself would point this out, the responses could be boiled down to this; “The words are important, not the source.”, I agree. But then why fabricate the source? Why not just post a text post? Or post an image without the celebrity? Why lie?

Because the source does matter more than the text.

The Fallacy Fallacy

Readers familiar with logic would point out two fallacies in that statement; Appeal to Authority and Tu Quoque. I agree, any rational person would reject this hypothesis. However, people are rarely rational. Do you know a vehement supporter of a political party? Have you asked them if they have read the manifesto? When was the last time you read your party’s manifesto?

We don’t understand reason. We understand emotion. You vote how you feel. You buy things to evoke feelings. So you click on pictures of ‘important’ people with text that is so abstract, as to be applicable to any situation. Without the celebrity, you will see the text as what it is; hollow and vacuous. It is this irrationality that has made these simplistic images profitable

All Hail the Blessed Algorithm

Facebook’s algorithms reward 2 things; frequency and engagement. The more you post and the more users interact with your posts, the more feeds you show up in. The more ad revenue you will get. These images have a two-fold advantage in this situation:

  • They require no effort produce (That Obama image took me 20 minutes in Canva.)
  • And inherent human irrationality means they get quite a lot of engagement.

This makes it catnip for Facebook and Instagram. They will show up on people’s feed, whether you like it or not! Even the people ‘pirating’ this ‘content’, by downloading and sharing it on WhatsApp Groups, do you a service; add a watermark with your social addresses and someone will end up there.

Celebrities make empty platitudes more authentic, which makes them more profitable on social media. The source matters more than the text, the book is usually judged by its cover. People are very superficial.


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