With the rise of social media (I know, I know, too many blog posts have started with these words, but hold on, I am going somewhere else here) we have changed into beings with our own small worlds – where we make the rules, where we consider ourselves a company of one, an NGO of one, or the one, for which I have a special kind of awe, that can change the world all by herself. Just think the way Malala started and the impact she has on the world today.
We have created a culture where teenagers build their kingdoms on Twitch and Youtube and Instagram with a huge following. Those are all young people from different cultures, where people from India or Taiwan or Brazil do exactly the same thing, because… global culture, global movement.
We are slowly turning into governments of one. We can do everything on our own, no matter what we know, what skills and talents we have, or which diploma we own. We learn and we create rules on the go, we explore, we test, we measure and we adjust. The world we live in today is the sum of governments of one.
Why government of one?
This is not something that everybody can do on a large scale. It requires a special mindset – a special set of beliefs that you can do everything by yourself and that you don’t need anybody. You take a risk, start doing it and slowly realize that you can really do it, because everything you need to know is googlable. All the knowledge of this world (well maybe 90%) is on the first page of Google and you only need to reach out and grasp it.
Those that dare to go a step further probably start by thinking: “If Kim Kardashian can do it, I can do it”, without knowing that Kim is just a face to a whole campaign of experts, and realizing how big their success is. You can now be a one-man show with thousands, millions of followers, who like you, who identify with you, who can see your faults, your anger, your embarrassments, but also your smile, your wit and your skills (that doesn’t even have to be great, average is fine).
Look at all those Twitch and YouTube celebrities! They don’t have whole teams of makeup artists, photographers, interior designers, strategists, social media experts, accounting gurus, Photoshop experts and who knows who else on the side. They do it mostly on their own and they are among the top YouTube channels.
That is all part of a phenomenon that theorists have created a word for, but it still doesn’t have a proper definition online: Me-conomy. The economy centers around a country, so no wonder these people are seen as the governments of one, with economies of their own, called me-conomies due to their self-centeredness.
Me-conomy as an evolution of economy
ME-conomy is a word that covers both the individual’s worlds, and the mindset of a company that is aware that every customer counts. The companies today need a personalized approach to every single customer. Again. Me-conomy.
As Andy Law says “The Age of the Customer has been slowly, but surely, forming over many years and now, with the advent of sophisticated online tools, it is ready to take a dominant role.”
Macala Wright claims “that consumers are living storified lives. They yearn to have their friends pay attention to the grand narrative that they are crafting through their digital stories their building through the experiences they’re having and the things they are learning”, but that is not news, nor something that came with digital age. We just have a new medium to share our narratives on. Every one of us has a friend who is better at saying stories about everyday common things than the rest of us, it doesn’t matter if they are online or offline, and we all tend to believe them.
Sharing experiences is not a new thing. What is new is that a brand, a company, can look out for such stories now and are moving forward to create relationships with those people as both customers and friends. That is how a brand changes today, it is evolving into a customer-centered being. We are surrounded by successful examples of companies of one and smart brands learn how to learn from them.
But is the “Me-conomy” about to implode?
This question was raised when the Instagram celebrity Essena O’Neill and “her government of one” collapsed. When this Australian Instagram celebrity collapsed under the burden of the real / fake world she was living, many of us thought this is going to happen to all of the “governments of one” – that they are going to disappear too, because their way of being is not natural, because it’s fake.
The more cynical ones thought this move was just a marketing maneuver Essena made on her way up the YouTube hierarchy. If it is, I would say it was a very successful one. That’s because she is smart, or because she feels this was a grandiose move. Or both. So, what is there not to learn from?
Out of all the comments, what I have not seen is people commenting on how sorry they felt for this little girl, who was earning money through hard work (she said she did 600 posing for the photo to make her tummy look good), who realized that she is all fed up with the ideal of women body we have placed in front of her and that she does not want to follow it up, that a part of her personality is to be a rebel and do something nobody else is doing. She also knows she needs to grow up and become a part of the not so interesting world. So why not make it interesting, and make it play for her?
Does it all sum up to marking all teenage celebrities as vanity princesses? Why not regard them as someone we can learn from?
So what is it then? Economy or our own world?
What we have to ask ourselves is: What is our role here, do we have our own worlds and how is our ME-conomy doing? Do we have our own followers, fans, people that look up to us? If you take a look at your audience and realize it’s made of smarter, older, more successful peoples, does not that make you feel great?
Role model is a keyword. These YouTube and Twitch celebrities, these kids, are role models to many. They can influence their followers to many things right, to love themselves or donate to charity. Isn’t that good? Why would we want this phenomenon to implode?
No, I don’t think Me-conomy is going to implode. Me-conomy will create experienced experts who will have a huge following not because they are perfect, but because they are human, and we can learn from their experience.