Social Media was one of the big inspirations that lived in my creative space when I started dreaming up the stories in the Scions of the Star Empire. When I was writing the story, it felt like the height of social media’s influence on us (heavens, did I underestimate, or what?). Turns out my imagination couldn’t keep up with reality and I’m still not sure we’re hitting “peak social media.”
On the overcrowded city-planet of Landfall, careers rise and fall via social media, same as can be said for here on planet Earth. But Landfall culture takes it one step further–fortunes are won and lost as well, with the Social Capital markets, where a person’s worth is banked upon not by their credit score, but by their “SoCap” score. SoCap scores even affect the alliances of noble house couples, determining beforehand who has the upper hand in a marriage before either party says, “I do.”
The higher up the social ladder you climb, the less an alliance is about a couple, and the more it becomes the union of two entire households, so determining who’s got the advantage holds a lot more at stake than just who gets to ban stewbeets from the household menu (the answer to that is “everyone,” because everyone hates stewbeets. Unfortunately, they form the basis for a LOT of food served to all social classes on this over-burdened world).
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Outside of marriage alliances, there are all sorts of business contracts that are made or broken based on the balance of social capital held by the participants. The privileged young people like the students at the Landfall Cultural Academy can use their social capital to influence trends in culture, fashion, and entertainment…but by the same token, their popularity is traded like a commodity for others to profit like stocks on a market exchange. With all eyes on them, all the time, managing their reputations is a matter of survival.
Read more about the world of Landfall in the Star Empire’s system of the Torch in the Scions of the Star Empire series.