Volv Concierge Issue #43

🍆 From crass meme to cultural currency

Hey everyone!

If you're still feeling residual patriotism after the long Fourth of July holiday, I'd like to remind you that you that national narcissism 🤝 conspiracy theories.

Let's move on: I've got the usual serving of top articles this week and a deep dive into how a single piece of content, no matter how crass, rapidly transforms into a cultural phenomenon with real-world value.

📰 Articles you need to check out:

  1. Nazi drugs are sweeping across Europe

  2. Trump is afraid he'll be assassinated if he talks about this one topic

  3. It's illegal to be fat in Japan

  4. MrBeast has his eyes on the US presidency

  5. A niche reading event is making waves in New York

🤯 Content is the Currency of Culture: Decoding the Hawk Tuah Phenomenon

Today, content isn't just king—it's the currency that drives our cultural economy. The recent viral sensation of Hailey Welch, the "Hawk Tuah Girl," perfectly illustrates how a single piece of content can skyrocket in value, transforming an ordinary individual into a cultural icon overnight.

Welch's candid response in a street interview catapulted her to internet stardom, proving that authenticity and novelty are premium commodities in the content economy. From $30,000 club appearances to $65,000+ in merchandise sales, Welch's sudden rise to modern celebrity status demonstrates the tangible value of viral content in today's culture.

How and why does content become SO valuable?

Our brains are hardwired to notice the unexpected, making content like Welch's unfiltered moment a hot commodity in a sea of curated posts. This novelty factor, similar to Bella Poarch's simple head-bobbing video that launched her music career, initially captures our attention and prompts us to hit that share button, increasing the content's cultural value.

The key to understanding this and any other phenomenon is to view each piece of content as a unit of cultural currency.

When people engage with content through shares, duets, and stitches, they trade in this currency. Whether they love it or hate it, it doesn't matter—engagement is engagement, and it all adds to the content's cultural worth. As "hawk tuah" seeps into conversations, feeds, and even merch, we witness a random piece of content appreciating in cultural value to become a full-fledged phenomenon.

Remember Salt Bae?

His salt-sprinkling technique evolved from a meme to a cultural touchstone, with people willing to spend hundreds to experience it firsthand and, of course, post about it. This shows how content can appreciate in value to the point where it generates real-world experiences and economic transactions.

While often fleeting, these viral moments serve as shared experiences that connect us in our increasingly fragmented digital world. They tap into our very human desires for novelty, connection, and shared experiences, making them invaluable in the cultural marketplace.

We're all content creators and cultural investors

In this new economy, every post, share, and engagement contributes to shaping our cultural landscape. The next time you see a "Hawk Tuah" or a "Salt Bae" dominating your feed, remember — you're not just witnessing a meme. You're observing the real-time fluctuations of our cultural stock market. (The fact that memes became memecoins, aka an actual financial asset, still blows my mind.)

In the past, content just reflected culture. Today, it's how we create, trade, and shape it. We have unknowingly transitioned into a new cultural economy where content is the most valuable currency of all.

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This newsletter was edited by Ishita Sen.