The Social Media Bubble Economy

From teeth-whitening kits and vegan smoothies to obscure unoriginal clothing and trendy restaurants, you cannot go on Instagram and avoid being berated by advertisements. I am not talking about ads sold by Instagram and forced on users, I am talking about Instagram users selling their pages out to companies for free products and discounts. It’s almost a new type of pyramid scheme.

Instagram users all over are hoping to secure a deal with a brand they love. They do it by building up a following base of “Likes” and “Follows” and using those high numbers to get a company to give them free product so they can provide a 10% off deal to their fans on one of their posts or some type of shoutout.

These users and posts are everywhere.

This is the life of a “social media influencer” or whatever the hell they want to call it.

All one needs to do to make it today is build up a fan-base and then profit off the fact that people give enough of a shit about the image of their life and what they consume to sell the products they already use to their fans.

At some point the gravy train is going to end.

The social media bubble economy is going to burst.

The Instagram bubble economy is going to burst (and soon I hope as an Instagram user).

YouTube has cracked down on ad revenue for content providers amid a stream of controversies. Essentially, YouTube had their advertisers get upset because their ads were being shown with extremist-linked videos.

YouTube then pulled ads on content which was deemed unwholesome by use of a strict algorithm, which ended up cutting advertising on content providers that addressed taboo subjects, used foul language, etc…

Content providers on YouTube have seen a drastic decline in their ad-revenue as a result of the crackdown. People who used to make a lot of money on YouTube are now pissed. I don’t really care if it means less ads on YouTube videos though.

The YouTube bubble has already burst. It is only a matter of time before Instagram sees a similar shock.

The underlying issue however is not that there are too many people on Instagram whoring their pages out to companies, the issue is this: too much value is being placed on social media followers.

Theoretically with over 6 billion people in the world each person could amass a following of 100,000 followers, and each could monetize their account, but if more users have large followings it will devalue the benefit of large followings.

In order to sell products on your page, you’ll eventually have to have 2 million followers, then 5, then 10, and then 25 million.

The length of videos has gone from 10 seconds originally to 1 minute now. Next it will be 10 minutes. Then the accounts with millions of followers will distribute their own shows via Instagram, avoiding the networks, YouTubes, and Netflixes. Instagram could end up being a whole new media empire like television.

Of course Instagram will want their cut and put an advertisement in videos too. And so-on and so-on…

The over-valuation of social media followers is ruining the world.

Yelp reviewers are the worst of the social media lot.  They whine about their experiences like a dog yelps after it gets slapped with a cat fist full of claws, so I guess the name Yelp makes sense.

Good restaurants have had reputations tarnished over the hurt feelings of a single douchebag “Yelper” that didn’t get a free side with their entrée and just had to bitch about it to the internet.

But why does anyone give a shit about what Bob in Central Missouri thinks about the local taqueria he is visiting on his trip to Los Angeles? He ordered one thing one time at a place he’d never been to and probably didn’t even get something good.

Why should we give Bob a cookie for having dinner at a place and leaving a review and then take his word for it as if he even knows what the fuck he is talking about? We should not.

We should not reward people for leaving reviews on social media like we do in our society today.

But hey, if you think giving Bob a free appetizer because he graced your business’ presence with his Yelp account which has 500 reviews and 25 friends will bring in more business more power to you.

Businesses need to put less weight on social media reviews and stop giving free products to people because they have a lot of “followers.”

In most cases these accounts with many followers are indistinguishable from other accounts. Most are a girl doing squats and taking posed pictures in a mirror. We get it, you go to the gym. What do you do with your life that enhances the human experience though?

I can’t tell you how many of my friends only follow certain accounts because we think a woman is “hot” and because I am a man and I do the same I assume the number is at or near 100%. That doesn’t mean men are going to go buy some pre-natal vitamins because we saw them in an Instagram post.

Social media has become derivative and the bubble economy it has produced cannot sustain itself.

In many ways, I would argue that the social media economy should not sustain itself and that it has in fact harmed businesses rather than helped them by forcing them to cater too much to people who already use their products.

Sorry that I’m not sorry that I hope your bubble bursts if you are a “social media influencer,” but you’re ruining the world.

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WestWOAHrld: a review of HBO’ s Westworld

When the trailer for HBO’s new show Westworld came out I was in awe. I’d only recently developed an affinity for the western genre, a genre of what it means to be living on the fringe of the unknown in a new world. Western film and television represent and reflect on an era where you could trust your neighbors that were sparsely spread throughout the new American landscape, but what was beyond your neighbors was frightening. Westworld takes classic western motifs and adds a dose of realism as it updates the genre.

My love for western films grew from taking care of my Grandma and watching nearly every John Wayne movie ever filmed over home cooked meals on our family farm. Compared to classic western films and John Wayne films in particular the settings and scenery in Westworld are beyond anything the western genre has ever seen. Westworld is like the old True Grit multiplied by The Alamo raised by The Searchers squared, and even then that’s not an accurate reflection of the amount of boundaries that have been broken for a western film by HBO’s new show.

Back when Hollywood was making western movies routinely it would have been insanely controversial to have the gratuitous violence and nudity that today seems expected to get ratings. In many respects though the shedding of puritanism in film allows for a more accurate depiction of historical times. You would be hard-pressed to find too many John Wayne movies where blood actually explodes out of a wound or the entire town was laid to waste by a pack of murderous robbers. In many of the old films the themes and ideas are the same but only alluded to. Due to the changing of societal norms Westworld is able to not only approach the same themes but go into much more graphic detail than has been done in the past in film. Westworld is probably the most accurate reflection of the old west in popular film to date.

When you move away from the setting of the show and you add the fact that Westworld is a simulation, things just get better. The show concept is unlike anything that I have seen on TV, with the slight exception of Fantasy Island, but it’s really not comparable in the end. Mr. Rourke would never allow the things Dr. Ford allows to happen in Westworld on his own Fantasy Island. On Fantasy Island you go with a goal to better yourself, but in Westworld the world shows you what you really want to be.

To the freshly immersed individuals in Westworld it is a novelty to experience the fruits of an unfettered world restricted by societal norms. You see how those who are just visitors for a moment experience the novelty of the world with a childlike wonder. The new visitor who proudly walks into the crowded street as we await the finish of a new storyline and shoots the main antagonist before it’s end is the perfect example of that wonder; he proudly looks at his wife after he kills the villain. Those who are weathered in the fruits of the world have a much more macabre view of the simulation. The Man in Black seems unphased by anything the world has to offer anymore, including being left to hung and having to find his way out alive.

The casting and characters are incredibly done. Old western films didn’t have too much diversity in their casting whereas Westworld has a wide range of diversity and accents that you would expect to see in an era of American history where nearly everyone were only recent immigrants to this country. The show feels authentic to what one might expect to see if you went back to the late 1800’s.

Aside from the settings, cast, and concept, the music is brilliant as well. The western genre to me is the equivalent of the American opera, and although there is no singing in Westworld I think the show backs me up with it’s use of music to guide the show’s story. From the modern songs playing on the old-school parlor piano to Claude Debussy’s Reverie playing as the Hosts have reveries of the past the show is on point auditorially. Their versions of No Surprises by Radiohead and Chopin’s Nocturne No. 9 are flawless and all of the music fits perfectly with the events that unfold.

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t complain about spoilers if you read past this.

….Seriously, SPOILER ALERT!

The first few episodes gave me the feeling that the Man in Black was not a typical bad guy and just someone playing the game. At that point, we didn’t know anything about him though. Now at season’s end, I feel the same but I am really confused as to how his relationship with Dr. Ford will work going forward as I viewed the two to be nemeses. Now having learned that the Man in Black is William though, I feel as if there is no way Dr. Ford would allow William to become the majority shareholder in the company if they weren’t seeing eye to eye.

As far as Dr. Ford, I have always felt that he was the one to be worried about. I think it might be because it’s hard to see Anthony Hopkins as anything but Hannibal Lecter, but he has felt like a tragic villain since the first episode. He means well, but he’s an evil and maniacally ruthless SOB. He is growing old and knows that him time is running out to see his creation through.

The show seems to have set up that the hosts will rebel against the Westworld operators and succeed this time, but we can’t be sure as the show continues to throw us for loop after loop. For those of you that have seen the finale, I’m not positive that Dr. Ford is dead yet. We have seen his cunning in the past and for him to have a host version of himself killed in front of the Board of Directors would remove a lot of the Board’s power over the park while Dr. Ford could sneak around the world he created while the hosts take over the world outside.

Without diving into more theories on the show I want to end my review. I could discuss much more about what I think about the show and it’s characters but I’m just going to leave it here. Fan theories are great but I would rather read them than make them because I know I’m likely to be wrong and would rather experience the story as the creators release it sans expectations.

Final Review: 10/10, would highly recommend to anyone that is not a Puritan.