#Clout in the Metaverse

Emma-Jane MacKinnon-Lee
4 min readApr 28, 2021

They’ll do anything for clout.

At the time of writing this, videos tagged with #clout on TikTok have been viewed over 4.3 billion times and on instagram, over 2 million posts. It’s not the most viral tag out there, but it certainly has some pretty active relevance.

In fact, the term has enough importance that it’s been used in political circles as a form of local lexicon since the mid twentieth century, and has also found itself in all sorts of interesting self help books.

But with all of that said, what does it actually mean and why is it so relevant?

Well, there’s a whole bunch of definitions, and the meaning is pretty porous, but to include the most explicit and conclusive;

Being famous and having influence.

Wanting attention on social media.

Being able to bend the “rules” and get away with it.

Hype, attention, fame… short term, usually.

You gotta have pizzazz homie, you can’t be out here looking normal. Anything to be different.

So, you get the idea. But, it’s the last one, despite its colloquial, urban dictionary style tone, that’s actually probably the most informative.

Anything to be different.

And, it really is just that, isn’t it.

Self expression and identity are fundamental to us humans. (I often say that a lot when people ask me about why I became so interested in digital fashion, because fashion is very much one of the most important tools in our identity forming kit).

Who are we really if we don’t have our identities? Is a person still a person without an identity? Is it possible to feel completely human if one doesn’t possess at least a minimal sense of their own self?

These ponderings get more and more existential pretty fast, especially when directly adjacent questions start being asked like, “What would life be like without an identity?” … no attribution of consequences? dissolution of ego? profound loneliness or emptiness?…..?…??…

It’s hard to fully encapsulate. And, even more so in modern times, where our identity holds so much more globally significant value — it has very much evolved into digital cultural currency. It’s integral to how we interact online, how we form our tribes, guilds, and how we verify and present ourselves to the outside world. It’s how we distinguish ourselves from the crowd, dictate our individuality, whilst also signaling belonging and creating pockets of inclusion.

Drawing from this, clout could be considered as another tool for how we can not only be defined by others, but rather, how we are perceived to resonate with them, and more-so, resonate with the “right circles” — particularly in a digital sense, where there is higher fidelity of interoperability for the message across different platforms, more instantly.

For some, this “resonance in the right circles”, or, more simply put “social rank”, is incredibly important. And, to take a note from the mantra of the IG era, “Pics or it didn’t happen”.

It’s somewhat sad, but clout in today’s landscape is how we categorise who’s so-called happenings or identity is more official, relevant, worthy than others. If you don’t have clout, do you really significantly exist online?

Cardi B and Offset do a pretty decent job of encapsulating a lot of this + it’s catchy ! 😂🤟🤪

…. Yep… they’ll do anything for clout..

So, extending these themes out further — how is clout relevant to the metaverse? And, also, because although a very purposeful and native term in my everyday language, it’s still a very new term to many — what even is the metaverse?

Starting with the latter, the metaverse can be imagined as an all immersive environment, digital 3D space where we can interact, build economies, and communicate. But, it isn’t just constrained to that — it’s an all encompassing connective network, a digital meta-network that enhances everything we already use the internet for, and so much more.

And, in this AR, VR, gaming, internet, blockchain, web3 remix, identity, and the way we define our identity holds even more consequence. The metaverse is multi-dimensional, and so too will be our interactions. How can we prove and verify the intention of ourselves to others in these parallel realities?

When we pose this question, clout suddenly becomes less “hyped influencer” based capital, and more-so a medium for delicately combining community accountability, vetting, verification, in informing the social trustworthiness of someone in the metaverse — “proof of identity”, “proof of humanness”.

Clout is certainly not the only, but definitely a well grounded tool for being able to more concretely secure digital identity against;

  • Sybil attacks
  • AI and bot impersonation
  • Maliciously centralised DAO formation
  • Falsely earnt reputation

In fact, there is a really cool web3 native project building out a sybil-proof list of humans here! Definitely check it out.

The metaverse is already here— but, it’s just not yet fully fledged and obvious to all. Better onboarding, UI, scaling and time will solve a lot of this, including more robust means for representing our digital identities. With this, it starts to become more tangible for a lot more people.

Truly existing in a multi-dimensional state will mean certain constraints will no longer define us so absolutely — age, gender, “human” defined looks etc. — and thus, means like clout become more distinct and dependable channels for identity and social trustworthiness.

And with that said, fashion (Or more appropriately, digital fashion) will also be an absolutely essential, vital and undeniable medium for being able to secure our self expression, how we are defined and the validity of that definement in a more dynamic, variable and fluid environment — the metaverse.

Hey! I’m Emma-Jane! I’m a 23 year old fashionaut amongst other things

I am the founder of DIGITALAX and a bunch of other stuff in web3. 😆

Follow me on Twitter and check out my website janefuture.com