A new kind of Monster

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Kanye_West_by_JAMlE

7 years ago – yes. 7 years ago – I posted about Monsters. One of my points was that we, as a society, need a monster. We’ve always had one and it somehow seems to keep our culture in balance. I highlighted monsters that I grew up with who for the most part were musicians that scared the crap out of parents. Marilyn Manson, Judas Priest and Eminem to name a few. At the time, I was asking who was the monster now. Eminem had just ended his run and Marilyn had become a caricature of himself.

As I suspected, there was a new one already in the works; Kanye. Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock at the bottom of the ocean. Kanye West has been leading the way in the Monster competition for the past several years. But, this one is different. This one doesn’t scare anyone. Not even parents. He is easily one of the most talented people on the planet right now and is 100% aware of that fact AND is willing to share that fact with anyone who will listen. Never has an artist been so hated. (There have been petitions at Glastonbury Festival and Ottawa Bluesfest to remove him from the lineup.) He’s not polarizing. He’s hated. People hate Kanye because he is one of the best and knows it. They hate him because of his ego.

But there have been plenty of entertainers that have had big egos . . . Noel Gallagher to name just one. But these are different times. This is the age of the selfie. The age of self-promotion, even if you have no talent at all. (Think Kim Kardashian. Not one ounce.) We’re all competing with one another to portray ourselves as beautiful, popular and definitively better than our peers. Yet another study was just released surrounding the psychological significance of selfies.

People who post selfies on social networks are more likely to exhibit what some psychologists call “the dark triad” of personality traits, according to two recent studies of nearly 1,200 men and women who completed personality tests and answered questions on their online habits. This dark triad consists of narcissism (extreme self-centeredness), Machiavellianism (manipulation of others) and psychopathy (acting impulsively with no regard for other people’s feelings).

This isn’t great news for many of us and Kanye obviously is this. With this in mind – in many ways – we have become the monster. We’re miniature versions of Kanye. Seeking attention, affirmation and self-promoting. We are the monster.

By Michael Myers

I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently interested in artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and tattooing.

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