Perhaps “new” is not the correct word, as cult leaders, politicians, and common sociopaths have always feigned commonality to feed people’s basic need for connection. However, there has certainly been a surge in vulnerability being used as a marketing ploy in the past decade. From orchestrated “reality” shows to marketing strategies.
What we are in fact discussing is the illusion of vulnerability. Vulnerability researcher, Dr. Brene Brown, defines vulnerability “as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure“. I would add that true vulnerability is a purely motivated impulse to move through the deepest part of ourselves, reaching out to connect with others. When the motivation is not the need to connect and to heal, but rather to gain money or power, such disclosures become a manipulation.
The issue is that we are still essentially wired for tribal living. As modernity leads us into greater social isolation, we crave real interactions more and more. Thus false vulnerability is becoming an increasingly powerful tool. When we see a person’s face repeatedly, or hear their voice express deep emotion, or learn intimate details about their lives, our tribal brain translates this into “they are part of my tribe or family group” when in fact we know nothing about them. This type of mass connection is useful to spread a worthy message, but we must also be aware that it can be misused.