High Fidelity Society Is Reorganizing The World

A case study on how to build and brand our new digital infrastructures

We used to pass culture through objects. There was a time for many of us when a vinyl record, a luxury handbag or a Lisa Frank folder were relics that signaled “I am one of you.” They had singular meanings that everyone agreed upon, and appreciation of the object itself was at the center of the culture. 

But today, there is perhaps no more effective way to signal “I am one of you” than with a carefully selected meme or perfectly ungrammatical text. A specific mashup, a certain combination of emoji or a self-referential aesthetic can convey multitudes more about a culture now than any physical item ever could.

When we stopped passing culture through objects and started passing culture through digital artifacts, we moved from low fidelity society to high fidelity society. 

My cofounder, Jean-Louis Rawlence, coined the term high fidelity society to frame the moment our cultural signals shifted from wide knowledge to deep nuance. 

The low fidelity society of just a few decades ago thrived on singularities and binaries. Households had split roles, careers had predetermined trajectories, perceptions of gender ran within clear lanes, lifestyles spread across a simple set of socioeconomic classes, political parties were mirrored images of one another and economics followed the rules of supply and demand.

The spheres of possibility were narrow. We shared the same core values because we all watched the same TV, read the same papers and subscribed to the same institutions. 

Less information was the hallmark of a low fidelity society and what made it work. When a world is that small, it can only support a simple set of social rules. If a subculture didn’t fit our neat binaries and categories, it was omitted from the canon or filed down to fit into broader societal trends. It makes sense, then, that our cultural objects took little context to be understood. 

But high fidelity society shifted things. Suddenly, with our worlds online and with the ability to capture and codify so much more information, culture ballooned and our digital objects became massively heavy with meaning.

As the sheer volume of culture in our digital worlds inflates every day, the centerpoint of history only gets closer. This phenomenon has rendered trends meaningless as markers of time and place and similarly snapped our connection to what might be called the highest tier of cultural objects: historical art. 

“Nowstalgia” and the loss of time and place.

Younger collectors are proving to have no regard for the masters or the canon because, as professor Giana M. Eckhardt notes, “If you look back at human development, there were tens of thousands of years in which things didn’t change that much. Humans have not developed enough to be able to react to social change that is this quick. This leads to people putting a value on the new in different ways from the past.” 

But I would take this insight a step further. What we’re really seeing is the weakness of physical objects as vessels of culture in our expanding high fidelity society.  

When a culture changes its medium, the medium changes the culture. Keep in mind that high fidelity society is not merely about more choice. It is about exactness. Our new medium of passing along culture has allowed for an incredible new fidelity to be had in every way we choose to engage with the world. When we engage in new ways, we create new realities. 

Nearly every singularity and binary - gender, family, identity, and so on - has crumbled. Lifestyles and socioeconomic tiers have at once exploded and collapsed into each other. Social rules have become complex (and if you don’t think so, you’re probably breaking them). Career paths are unrecognizable from where they were a decade ago, and a meme page like Litquidity can spin out into a VC, which it did. 

If you’ve ever laughed at a “starter pack” meme, you’ve felt the gulf between low fidelity society and high fidelity society.  

A Litquidity meme can nod to various cultural touchstones in one simple image. It might make a reference to HENRY culture, self-skewer bruised egos and the need for status regardless of the cost in money or self-respect and embrace the cognitive dissonance of new wealth at a time when the markets have failed to act the way they should, while still reveling in the basic bitchness of it all. 

But most importantly, if you understand all of these layers together, you also feel the giddy, feverish camaraderie of those who practice the “farce of high finance”. And even if you don’t understand this meme, you still recognize that there is tremendous information density within it.

The physical objects of low fidelity society worked to homogenize our culture, but the digital artifacts of high fidelity society fragment culture into many pieces. And it is within those fragments that we can begin to see the future of business and branding. 

Dating app Feeld operates in high fidelity society. They are part of a cohort of early brands that feel the pressure for a new digital infrastructure to house our high fidelity needs, and my team and I were fortunate enough to work with them to develop their brand strategy.

Feeld has created a platform for dating in all of the ways that low fidelity society could not hold. Polyamory, consensual non-monogamy, homo- and heteroflexibility, pansexuality, androgyny, aromanticism, voyeurism and kink are just a few of the sexual identities that high fidelity society not only holds, but makes increasingly visible. Much like the Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis of language, the more ways we have of expressing ourselves, the more we will express ourselves in different ways.

All of these identities demand new forms of connection, and Feeld is creating a unique infrastructure that allows connections to evolve instead of conform. 

In this case study, I’m going to show you how we worked with Feeld to build a brand for high fidelity society, and the two major paradigm shifts every company will need to make in order to win in this new world. 

Into The Meme

Here's what we've been consuming.

There is No Alternative (Joshua Citarella's Newsletter): "In recent years, establishment politics have become increasingly brittle while previously fringe ideas have reentered the mainstream. Faced with the brunt of an imminent social, economic and climate crisis, downwardly mobile young people now gather in online spaces to workshop some vision of a path forward."

We’ve Lost the Plot (The Atlantic): "Such examples may seem trivial, harmless—brands being brands. But each invitation to be entertained reinforces an impulse: to seek diversion whenever possible, to avoid tedium at all costs, to privilege the dramatized version of events over the actual one. To live in the metaverse is to expect that life should play out as it does on our screens. And the stakes are anything but trivial." 

Professor John Vervaeke — On Cultivating Wisdom, Finding Flow States, The Power and Perils of Intuition, The Four Ways of Knowing, Learning to Fall in Love with Reality, and More (The Tim Ferriss Show #657): "Learning to fall in love with reality is a crucial part of becoming wise. It's the realization that the world is not just a backdrop to our desires, but a dynamic, living reality that is worthy of our attention and engagement."

The age of the grandparent has arrived (The Economist): "The evidence suggests children do better with grandparental help—which usually, in practice, means from grandmothers. And it will help drive another unfinished social revolution—the movement of women into paid work."

Brokenism (Tablet): "Among the people who do engage in debates about this country’s future, the ones doing it most compellingly are not those still stuck in the battle between 'Democrats' and 'Republicans,' or 'liberalism' and 'conservatism.' The most vital debate in America today is between those who believe there is something fundamentally broken in America, and that it’s an emergency, and those who do not."

The Problem With Letting Therapy-Speak Invade Everything (New York Times): "The idea that we are 'authentic' only insofar as we cut ourselves off from one another, that the truest or most fundamental parts of our humanity can be found in our desires and not our obligations, risks cutting us off from one of the most important truths about being human: We are social animals. And while the call to cut off the 'toxic' or to pursue the mantra of 'live your best life,' or 'you are enough' may well serve some of us in individual cases, the normalization of narratives of personal liberation threaten to further weaken our already frayed social bonds."

Micro Education

Quick hits of insight in socially acceptable places.

Long live the curious.

Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau, Inc.