Monday, January 24, 2022


The Anti-Mimetic, the Mimetic, and a Quote

The Anti-Mimetic

The Rise of Anti-Influencers. My friend Bronwyn Williams shared with me this very fun read by The Hustle on “Anti-Influencers”, or the people who consistently buy doomed products.  The more they buy a product early, the more likely it is to fail. Products like these gems:

  • Crystal Pepsi
  • Watermelon Oreos
  • Frito-Lay Lemonade
  • Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water
  • Colgate Kitchen Entrees
  • Cheetos Lip Balm
  • Jimmy Dean Chocolate Chip Pancake-Wrapped Sausage
  • Clairol’s Touch Of Yogurt Shampoo

Could these Anti-Mimetic buyers be a key counter-signals that we should identify and pay attention to? As I read the article, I couldn’t help but wonder if a similar dynamic works in the marketplace of ideas. Is there a person or group whose support of an idea is more likely to point to its shallowness or falsity than its depth and truth? Think about an idea—any idea, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, true or false—which has as its early adopters conspiracy theorists, or your political enemies. Are you more or less likely to take it seriously and grapple with it? Seems like this is something all of us should be paying attention to as the ad hominization of the world continues to blur the line between ideas and people.

The Mimetic

Last week I teamed up with the bestselling author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, and wrote this mash-up of his book with my book, Wanting. I reached out to James after hearing from dozens of readers about important connections they saw between choosing goals, habit formation, and the role of mimetic desire. I believe that books shouldn’t exist as independent entities; they are meant to be in dialogue with other books. James and I chat about three of the most powerful models when it comes to the development of new habits: the close, the many, and the powerful. These are three of the most important groups of people not only in the formation of habits, but also in the formation of desires. I hope you enjoy our collab. I hope to do more of these (non-rivalrous!) team-ups with other authors in the future, and I hope that they can be a small dose of positive mimesis.

Quote of the Week

“In movies, there are no big parts or small parts. There are only long parts and short parts.” —Brian Cox, world-renowned Shakespeare actor (who plays Logan Roy in Succession), in his excellent new book titled Putting the Rabbit in the Hat. Cox has lived a fascinating life. When I read this line in his book I thought about how many different aspects of life it applies to beyond movies.

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