We are all Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal is written by Seth Godin. In this book he proclaims the end of mass media and mass marketing and the rise of uniqueness and tribes. 👷♀️👨🎨 The core idea of the book is that in the modern era pandering to the masses is no longer an effective use of time because the market has become far too saturated.
The solution put forward in this book is that we instead embrace our weirdness and build tribes. Doing so will lead to meaningful work and help serve our tribe more effectively because we actually give a damn.
The book itself is quite short at 97 pages but it is one of those books where there is so much wisdom to be obtained that I don’t recommend reading this in one sitting.
A Pregnant Elephant 🐘
The book begins with the story of the pregnant elephant, the thought of which immediately grabbed my attention. The story is about a Belgian Zoo that had begun to lose public attention only for it to be restored by a pregnant elephant and an ad agency harnessing this opportunity for an effective message to the masses. However, Seth proposes that this story is an outlier in the modern day of saturated mass messages.
Mass is dead. Here comes weird
The book argues that mass worked for a period in time after the Industrial Revolution. It was a period of mass capitalism and producing average products to cater to the socially pressured masses worked well. However, society has since progressed off the back of mass capitalism and we are no longer in this period. The internet has helped to democatrise knowledge and information. Weirdness is now a choice and finding a tribe where our weirdness is expected is now easier to do than it ever was.
The book identifies 4 forces that are driving the push towards Weird:
- Creation is Amplified – you need only write a few sentences and push a button and your message has the capability of reaching a multitude of people.
- Rich Allows us to Do What we Want and We Want to be Weird – standing out takes time, money and confidence, more of us than ever before have all 3 now.
- Marketing is Far more Efficient at Reaching the Weird – it is easier than ever before to reach a tribe of weird people and serve them with the things they obsess over.
- Tribes are Better Connected – because we can find and share with others of a similar nature, weird is perversely becoming normal. The Internet has helped to connect and amplify these tribes.
Antelopes Don’t Have Hobbies 🎮
There was a time when catering to the masses led to immense wealth but eventually that wealth trickled down to the extent that more people became rich and money gave us choice. If people are poor then a take it or leave it strategy will work but when people are rich enough to make a choice then vanilla ice-cream is no longer enough for us.
Over time as we have gotten wealthier and more productive our weirdness has followed. Seth points out that there used to be a handful of caveman paintings scattered around the world now we have an abundance of art galleries to cater to many different interests.
Capitalism isn’t all that Bad
Seth points out that Adam Smith may have embraced capitalism because it leads to productivity but that the market also encourages engagement and choice. As humans we improve our well-being by enabling choice, this choice leads to embracing our weirdness and weirdness compounds over time.
Instead of living the life of a loner, embracing weird comes from a feeling of connectedness. It is easier to be weird when you don’t feel you are alone. Small tribes and the internet have helped to facilitate this sense of connection.
Stuff is not The Point
In the era of tribes it is not the stuff that inherently matters. What people are seeking from tribes is a sense of connection and shared values.
There is no ‘Us v.s. Them’
The book isn’t a guidebook on how to niche. Neither is it a book about an ‘us v.s them’ philosophy. Rather the book is about looking at the present day reality for what is is. The bell curve is no longer as pronounced in the middle as it once was. The mass middle has gradually been flattening out and what has been emerging from this are bands of tribes.
Embrace Educational Diversity 🎓
The educational system is built around the premise that there is a ‘normal middle’. Seth argues that this is not the case and that most stories of successful people are built from a sense of non conformity. Seth proposes that instead we work from the assumption that we are all weird and look for what the student is naturally interested in and good at.
Have you read We are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal? If so I would love to hear what you thought of it and what golden nuggets you extracted from it.