How The Social Media Game Has Changed And Why We're All Losing
Remember the first time you uploaded your photo to Myspace? What and exciting forty seconds. You were de-virginizing yourself to the internet. “I’m here!” is what the data in your blurry bathroom photo told the Myspace servers. How exciting.
Since then, millions, ahem, billions, of people have joined the internet party. Can we agree that it’s the most intense party humanity has ever had? There’s billions of people here, millions of rooms to explore and you don’t even need to be dressed to show up. You just need a numb hand and a charger.
Be careful which door you open, you might walk in on people fighting, making-out or something way worse. Nevertheless, we are all here, just virtually chilling. One notification away from joining the party again or more realistically, one unnecessary refresh to check a notification that’s not even there to join again.
And there’s cool kids. Oh man, there’s a bunch of cool kids. More cool kids than we we’re ever used to. And they pop up out of nowhere. The more that arrive, the more your numbers and rankings sink. The less cool you are. Then it becomes this sick game. Because there really is enough abundance to become a cool kid if you work for it and so we try.
It does sort of depend on luck, and how much you’re willing to expose about yourself oh yeah, and up until recently, how much money you are willing to invest.
Recently, I very hesitatingly turned my Instagram into a “business” account. I’m not going to lie. I was afraid of what I was going to see on the other end. Something about my work and my life being thrown into charts and data like snap rocks on concrete freaks me out. It’s like finding out you’re just a number in a big scary database. Well welcome to 2017. That’s exactly what the hell you are.
As I looked at my “analytics” it hit me. They know. They know how badly we all want to be seen. They know how badly we want to be the cool kids. The game is on us. It used to be that these platforms had to fight to keep us on and interested. But we are now so addicted and immersed into this matrix, no more convincing has to be done. You’re here to party. Forever.
These big social media platforms feed off your hunger to climb to the top. They are happily supplying us with the data so you do everything you can and spend as much money as you need to manipulate the data and compete. They win from us competing.
I can accept this, because I truly do believe in the beauty of capitalism. I don’t expect the people who run these companies to discover the power of this data and not financially take advantage. But damn. Look at what the world has come to.
To make matters even more intense we might have to face the fact that the question to ask at a time like this is not “Am I going to play in this game?” but “Do I have to?”.
James Altucher always reminds about these creepy and eye-opening statistics about the job-market collapsing in on itself and running entirely on a new foundation. A foundation where you have to depend on yourself. And not in a tend-your-land-and-raise-animals kind of way, but a figure-out-how-the-hell-to-use-the-internet-to-make-money kind of way.
The point is, these companies are onto us. And your innocent Myspace upload, your innocent attempt to connect the world in a new way has indeed, made the world connect in a new way.
I predict a world where the majority of millennials manage their social analytics better than they do their bank accounts. I imagine us investing money into gaining online social clout maybe not even for business purposes but to just seem, cool. To rank at least, sort of high in this party with billions.
And one last thing, if everyone is in this virtual party, then how many people are in the party of real life? At what point does this virtual party not become a party anymore? At what point does it just turn into a loud, telling and sobering representation of how weird humans really are?