We don’t often consider social media personalities to be our ‘friends’, but they play a more influential role than you think…
You are the product of your 5 closest friends
There is a well-known adage — ‘you are the sum product of your five closest friends’.
I’ve added the ‘sum’ in there because the relationship is more than just additive, it’s multiplicative.
By surrounding yourself with successful and motivated people, you grow as an individual.
Seek to spend more time with people you look up to – role models.
The Definitional Challenge of a ‘Role Model’
The phrase ‘role model’ is interesting because it often assumes an all-encompassing role model relationship.
Role models are most frequently viewed as role models in all aspects of life. This is problematic because we’re all flawed.
We have strengths and weaknesses, and it is unproductive to model others’ weaknesses purely because they are a role model in a separate aspect of their life.
Reflecting on my close friendships, I have role models in professional, academic, and sporting pursuits.
Role models help us learn and draw inspiration from specific, siloed areas rather than an all-encompassing whole.
Learn to identify the strengths and weaknesses in character, and model the strengths. Consider your peers across different metrics of life —> Intellectual, Professional, Social, Financial, Sports/Fitness.
Consider which friends model each of these aspects, or find additional friends who do!
Digital Role Models and Breaking Apart the Adage
Interestingly, these role models are often no longer people we know in the physical world. They’re people we form connections with across digital space.
With the proliferation and ease of podcast and video consumption, we can now listen to hours and hours of content, and do so at the expense of in-person face-to-face interaction.
As a result, we typically spend more time with our online role models than our in-person role models.
However, as mentioned above, we are erroneously viewing social media personalities and content creators as all-encompassing role models rather than ‘siloed role models’.
Yet when it comes to digital role models, this distinction is more important than ever.
Most successful people are known for a specialisation or niche. For example, Dr. Andrew Huberman is well known for his content on biology and neuroscience. Because of his high-quality educational content, Dr. Huberman can be viewed as a role model.
We need, however, to ensure that role models exist within the silo that they model. Huberman may be a role model for science, health and fitness, but not necessarily for history or philosophy.
It is no secret that people portray selective aspects of their personality online. I feel like I am good friends with Dr. Huberman, or Lex Fridman, yet actually know very little about them outside their online content.
People are struggling to make the distinction between a siloed role model, and an all-encompassing role model. For example, one may view Ye as a role model in music and fashion, but be violently disgusted by pretty much every other aspect of his personality. Understandable!
There are very few people who can be regarded as ‘all-encompassing’ role models. Find the five people who make you better every day, whether in-person or online, and ascertain the silo of life that they inspire improvement in.
The adage breaks down. Let’s rethink of it as ‘you are the sum product of the five people you engage with the most, whether in digital or physical space’.
Your five best friends are no longer the people you know in the physical world. You probably already have several digital friends.
Don’t forget: role models are rarely all-encompassing. Most model specific facets of life – think Intellectual, Professional, Social, Financial, Sports/Fitness.
Build your strengths in each of life’s silos, and strive to become an all-encompassing role model for others.
That’s the importance of role models in this hybrid digital and physical age.
Thank you for reading!