insights in culture
Brands & Outliers: New Tech Is Already Rewriting Our Moral and Social Codes
Consumers come into new consciousness
New technology has a remarkable way of showing us invisible human weaknesses. In this month’s roundup of Brands & Outliers, we see a few interesting patterns where great potential is also mirrored by great limitation.
This is perhaps most apparent in AI, where generative porn and emotional infidelity between humans and chatbots is already exploding. Yet what’s more telling is a new wave of sexting scams aimed at exploiting teen boys, both emotionally and financially.
It begs a big question: can moral trespass only happen between humans, or can it happen between humans and their machines? We are literally writing the new moral code as we live into this future.
Meanwhile, changing values and medical interventions are creating wholesale evolution of the American lifestyle. We’ve started drinking a lot less, eating a lot less, sleeping a lot more, and keeping earlier schedules.
Michael Pollan has famously observed that throughout history, our drugs of choice have determined how we gather. It seems today we are trading in the substances that numb us (alcohol) for the ones that make us more aware (psychedelics).
What the beverage industry seems to miss is that this trade is not just about health, it’s about people craving something more conscious in their gatherings.
But one of my favorite parts of this discussion was a brand called Future Society which has just launched “six scents created using sequenced DNA from extinct flowers, formulated by prestigious perfumers”.
Another moral code is asking to be rewritten here. What happens when nature becomes limitless? Just because you can resurrect that which has become extinct, should you? And did we all just pick up this moral baggage from watching Jurassic Park as kids?
There’s lots of other good brand and culture insight in this discussion. Links and notable timestamps below.
00:20 New tech is already rewriting our moral code
- 00:38 Why we’re ok with porn in relationships but not AI chatbots
- 04:08 The emotional exploitation of teen boys online reveals how much people will have to change their online toolset in the coming years
- 06:56 Intruders in the group chat show how desperate social platforms are to break into our gated spaces
11:02 Making friends with our medical diagnoses
- 11:29 If Ozempic becomes the new Prozac, we’re going to have to face some uncomfortable truths about how we talk about our bodies
- 13:57 Our social media culture of normalizing mental illness may have just transitioned to capitalizing on it
15:47 The evolving American lifestyle
- 16:10 As our social lives become uncoupled from food and life increasingly happens in the early hours, we’re getting new lifestyle benchmarks
- 19:08 Culturally, we’re moving from substances that numb us to substances that make us more aware
- 27:22 The sweet spot for marriage is now 28-32 years old, and it looks more like a startup than a merger
28:55 Our diversions are getting more sophisticated
- 29:06 BookTok isn’t just about book recs – it’s about creating an afterlife for the characters that change us
- 35:29 Dupes have always existed, but being proud of a good dupe is new
40:24 Odds and Ends
- Renting makes you age, Japan’s geriatric boy band, personal brands don’t let people grow, and a fragrance brand explores what happens when nature becomes limitless