A Stream Of Conciousness
I'm not thinking this through, but I'm going to start anyway.
There's been a thought going around my head for a couple of months now.
Social media is a stage... but the audience is up there with you.
We're playing on a crowded stage to an empty audience. Yeah, it's a good way to meet new people. But, can you really be heard?
The owner of this Social Media Theatre is out on the street pulling more poeple in with the promise of fame. "Don't miss out!" they say. "Everyone else is in here doing their thing. Isn't it wonderful?"
They don't have to worry about the performance, because there isn't an audience. They just make their money by packing the stage.
They need to pull people in and keep them in.
They want addicts.
These platforms are as habit-forming as they possibly can be. It's free to start with and then they get you hooked. Before you know it, you are up at 2AM, MINDLESSLY scrolling through unimportant drivle, making them millions! What have they ever done for you?
I saw a video the other day about this guy who had recently quit coffee and caffine. Now, I managed to quit caffine a year ago and it wasn't a fun thing to go through, so I can sympathise.
In his video, he explains the addiction and how the coffee industry is complicit in fostering the addiction. He compares it to Big Tobacco - with their self-funded health studies that justify the use of an addictive drug (that's literally what caffine is classified as).
They build a huge industry by selling an addictive drug that creates addicts that just want more.
Coffee has ritual, it has paraphernalia, it builds dependence, it causes withdrawel.
He makes a good point: there is no way that something that causes such terrible side effects when you stop taking it can be conidered health for you. Caffine MAY have some positive benefits... but the negative ones surely outweigh them.
Back to Social Media
Big Media seems to be a very similar business model to Big Tobacco and Big Caffine. The terrible part of Big Media, for me, is the rewards they give out. To make more money, they need to sell more ads. To sell more ads, they need more 'eyes on'. To get more 'eyes on', they either need to bring more people to the platform (not sustainable) or keep existing users glued. To keep them glued, they need sticky content. To get more of that content, they reward the creators of that type of content with more likes, fame, views, being featured, etc. These rewards mean more creators are incentiveised to make this type of content - easy to consume, sensational, unbelievable, empty.
It's the same system that gave birth to Clickbait.
Clickbait is one innevitable result of this kind of incentive scheme. Another result is the ever more sensational content - people doing crazy or dangerous things in search of the fame they were promised.
The platforms have thier kings and queens. The ones they show off to tempt creators with fame. "Look what our platform can do for you. You could be like this!" But, they always got in early. To rise to the top now, you need to shout crazy things louder than everyone else and make sure it lines up with the platform's algorithm.
I've also been thinking a lot about what this means for artist. As an artist, you need to follow your curiosity. You need to explore freely. I'm not sure you can do this within a socail media platform. Not unless you are an already famous artist.
I guess the idea would be to do your art, build up your name that way, and if/when you 'make it' (whatever that means to you) THEN you could move into social media.
I'm not convinced that building a following and THEN moving over into art to be famouse will result in great art. Like that Milk and Honey Poetry book -- she was insta-famous and then used that to leverage getting a book published. But, I really don't think the poems are any good. The book was just published to make money off this large fan following.
The thoughts of fame, recognition and money came first. Not the art.
I don't know what to say. I'm sure there will always be cases that go against the norm -- some great artists could make a name for themselves through social media and produce amazing art that matters -- but I'm equally sure that they will be few and far between. After all, some people DO win at the casino. You could win big. That's the promise. That's the temptation. There's just enough truth in it for it to be real. But, as we all know, you can't beat the house. They win eventually... unless we don't walk through the door.