“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
2020 will go down as the last year the Narrative Monopoly’s power was effectively unchecked. 2021 will go down as the year it began to unravel.
That is not to say that alternate media and dissenting voices didn’t exist pre-2021. The democratization of media started well over 20 years ago when anyone who knew HTML could publish to the internet. You know the story — first there were webpages, then blogs, then platforms, and now…all of it. The difference now is trust.
Much ink has been spilled about the decline in trust in legacy media and institutions, the critical missing link is distribution. Humans equate distribution with trust. “Everyone says this”, is used as justification of fact. The Narrative Monopoly maintained their monopoly on distribution for so long that their authority has remained unquestioned.
2021 was the year the dam broke. The confluence of increased distribution from independent voices, and the messages they shared, x-pilled millions. This was long a recursive exercise with a high failure rate. In order for new information to come to light, new voices needed distribution. In order for the audience to trust new information, new voices needed distribution to prove credibility. Once this code was broken, the flood began. With water rushing in, the accumulating advantage in 2021 was repeated dissent.
To the untrained eye, 2022 will look the same. The independent voices on Twitter, podcasts, blogs, Substack, etc. will continue to thrive in the macro as the Narrative Monopoly loses its grip on power. Though if you look closely, the theme of 2022 will not be divergence — it will be asymmetry.
What will look like hyper-resistance to monopolized narratives will be an illusion. Monopolized narratives will receive the least amount of resistance they’ve faced in some time. How could that be? Isn’t there a steady chorus of voices that constantly challenge the established order?
If you’re reading this, or a listener of the Narrative Monopoly podcast, it likely sounds crazy to assert that popular narratives in 2022 will be met with little to no resistance. There’s no shortage of voices across the internet that wield the power of their newly democratized publishing ability to attack narratives left and right. But the missing part of the equation is the denominator of narrative — audience.
The “bubbles” and “echo chambers” we have all been warned to death about are functionally just distribution. The decline in resistance is a product of this new cohort of Alt (stream of independent voices) media’s compounding authority as their distribution increases. No longer do people dip their toes in the water of two narrative lakes, the alternative lake is now big enough to fit everyone. One day it may become an ocean.
Every day hordes of people across all demographics, geographies, and ideological spectrums are seeing pieces of information that are untrue, information that short circuits their model of the world, and are starting to ask — what else isn’t true?
The phase change of 2021 was the advent of new information gaining credibility and distribution in harmony, the literary equivalent of pulling Excalibur from its rock. For the first time new information was being brought to light, as previously independent voices only published information that refuted popular narratives.
In 2022 the independent voices will only get stronger, creating a pseudo-monopoly of their own. This monopoly, paving the way for new information, will allow audiences to opt into differing information streams that, for the first time, meet little to no resistance.
Though invisible to most, a new world of information asymmetry will offer shrewd observers unbounded opportunities in three ways.
1) Asymmetric Information. In the Alt there is a culture of truth seeking that leads each voice to pursue information deemed too risky by the Narrative Monopoly. Because of this, there are asymmetric outcomes.
When a specific piece of information fitting this profile is true, it’s often true 1000x. When it’s wrong, it’s wrong 1000x. Obviously, the spreads in practice are not equal (allowing you to calculate expected value), but the point remains — the Alt’s supply of information is definitionally asymmetric.
2) Parsing Narratives. As the Alt grows from independent to establishment, their voices will begin to monopolize. There are already groups forming that push the same narratives. This is a natural progression — there is power in numbers. As these narratives begin to gain steam what will be left behind is truth.
As narratives grow in power, truth by way of nuance gets carved away like a sculpture as it can derail the narrative. This isn’t to say it’s malicious. It’s natural. Narratives are powerful and narrative manufacturers make logical tradeoffs to achieve their ends imperfectly, opposed to slowing or complicating a narrative to the point of impotence. This gives us a new set of narratives to parse.
3) Narrative Arbitrage. Because most people won’t tune into both the Narrative Monopoly and the Alt, the ability to synthesize differing narratives and information in both streams will present opportunity for arbitrage in 2022.
In the past, this trade would be harder to execute as many still paid attention to both — in 2022 the competition will be significantly reduced.
The mindset that enables this opportunity is “didn’t read, don’t agree”. Most people will reject any dissenting information out of hand. That is your edge.
Information asymmetry increases inequality in the real world. Its value increases as the number of people who see it decreases. Paradoxically, even though information is more accessible and transparent than ever, we will see the rise in asymmetric outcomes based on information due to this new paradigm. The key is simply knowing where to look.
As independent voices grow stronger, resistance to competing narratives becomes weaker as they begin to form their own narratives based on their own information. Opting out is the new resistance.
Consequently, less resistance fosters a culture of predetermined views. This is especially dangerous as unchecked narratives that fail to meet resistance mutate hyper-ideologically.
Narratives are like IP packets carrying bits of information in chunks from one mind to another. The best mental framework for 2022 is to synthesize information like a computer — decoding those bits into an emotionless stream of 1s and 0s. Only then will the information asymmetry become clear.
First published on January 1, 2022