Let me blow your mind here real quick. The reason millennials want to be YouTubers and influences is not narcissism. Okay, it’s a little bit narcissism, but it’s certainly much more than that.
First, I think it’s the freedom and lifestyle that an online job represents. When you look at the totality of content made not only for YouTube but for the internet at large, it’s all over the place. And when you really dive into it, YouTube is just a search engine for videos, except the keywords people search for when it comes to video vs text are dramatically different. When people want to find an opinion or a review or entertainment, they tend to search videos. When they want information, they tend to search websites. Obviously there is a mix of both kinds of content on both platforms, but the point is the vast majority of all this content is not persona-branded.
So millennials are not necessarily trying to plaster their face and their “brand” on everything. Thus there has to be some other kind of motivation. Let me generalize from self here and just tell you: the motivation is you have no boss. You can work from anywhere. You can live wherever you want and work any time you want and you’re not selling your time for money, you’re selling a product which is exponentially higher in profit potential and much more satisfying. So if traditional employers ever want to compete with that package, they have their work cut out for them.
The second thing which most boomers don’t realize and even many gen x don’t realize and millennials largely haven’t been able to articulate is that the internet is a place. Like any place it has local and regional news. It has back alleys. It has movie theaters and newsstands. And the way you exist on the internet is by creating content. That’s how you manifest your presence there. That’s what “relevance” is really about. Think about how easy it is to personify the internet as a city in moves like Wreck It Ralph. Because that’s what it is and that’s where it’s headed.
People on the internet aren’t “imaginary” as boomers think and even many gen x think. The truth is that regionality is rapidly becoming less and less important. People make friends on the internet who they see in person at conventions more often than they see friends from their towns. If travel prices get low enough or if these conventions or the governments of these regions start subsidizing travel costs, there will be no reason to ever make real world friends. You will just go to a convention every couple of months and see your friends there.
People meet their spouses on the internet. They meet business partners and establish real relationships that then manifest in the real world and this trend is only going to accelerate when VR applications for social media really start to take off and it becomes super easy to build your own MTV cribs hangout spot.
That’s the evolution of discord. Think about it. All these discords right now are competing (boomers don’t even know what discord is so I guess my target audience for this post just shifted). Eventually they’re going to look for that competitive advantage and that competitive advantage is going to be bots for convenience and entertainment followed up quickly by visual customization and then technological innovation/novelty. VR. Then, who has the coolest party house to hang out at in VR and we’re all back in high school all over again.
So in a strange sort of way, millennials and Gen Z are just creating content to be social in the new world that will increasingly become more convenient and more tangible than the actual world. And the government of the internet (Google, Facebook and Twitter) are just incentivizing people to move there by offering jobs and conveniences just like any other region.
If you start thinking in those terms, everything rapidly starts to make a lot more sense. Why there is mob rule on the internet (there is no justice system and the government bends over backwards to try to pretend it’s not a government and also abuses its power). Why everyone is trying to move there for work (every company offers remote work). Why society seems to be crumbling online (the internet is a cesspool of lawlessness and anonymity that’s 45% pornography).
The place needs city planning and a government and, by the way, these governments (Google, Facebook, Twitter) are all authoritarian dictatorships so that’s something to be aware of as well. Also, by the way, if you consider your social media to be your “home” on the internet and content to be the basic product of the internet, I’d point out that the analogy between you and a tenant farmer is tremendous. You pay a significant amount of your crop yield (or in facebook and Twitter’s case, all of it) to the landowning gentry for the right to farm on their property. That’s actually one of the reasons I started this site; I thought “why on Earth am I letting Facebook profit off and probably own my essays while they spy on me”
Obviously there are other reasons society is crumbling. A big one is the internet isn’t sophisticated enough yet. You only have very shallow relationships for the most part because social media incentivizes quantity, not quality due to the advertising business model. Because of this broadcast incentive you have strange effects on dating (instagram models who are basically cult leaders who sermonize the gospel of sephora and send their minions after heretics), weird bonding structures (lots of interest based groups instead of shared experiences and shared values), incentivized hatred and outrage (to generate more clicks and views). Currency on the internet is literally popularity points which is pretty perverse and a tremendously bad idea for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is it creates a weird caste system of parasocial relationships which is extremely bizarre. But as the internet reaches its FINAL FORM (kek) you’ll see a lot of this stuff diminish. But doing that requires waking up to the reality:
The internet is a place. It is an actual region, like China is a region and the US is a region. And soon enough people will live there in VR and visit it at cheap convention centers across the country and never need to interact meaningfully with the region their physical body is located in at all. Their physical needs will be administered remotely by internet companies (amazon drone food delivery).
You should also start thinking about the tax system very differently given what these major ISPs actually are in function (not name or claim) which is not a publisher nor an independent “town square” but a government. They own the roads. They own the land. They own the distribution and you pay tax on everything you do on the internet to them. And governments can never meaningfully curtail their power because they have a significant technological advantage and an information asymmetry that traditional meatspace governments struggle to catch up to, especially when the rock-paper-scissors weapon to fight politicians’ charm and lies is blackmail and social exile, which is the main form of punitive force used by the major players of the internet.
Milwaukee thinks it’s competing against Austin. Not so. All cities are competing against the fact that living in meatspace at all will be passe in two generations tops.
By the by, this will also break reality. Because if you’re living on the internet and, as we all know, truth on the internet is pretty murky, the phenomenon of everyone living in their own reality with their own facts is going to go nuts. Don’t try to stop it, it’s gonna get weird and it’s gonna keep getting weird. Just wait until you can’t tell if you’re on the internet or not anymore. Your great grandkids are in for a weird life. They may not even know if you died if an AI takes over your social media VR home. If we’re not in the matrix already (we are), we’re getting awfully close to building the matrix and putting ourselves in it.
Ryan Night out.