To spell it out as plainly as I can, there is no longer a way to post online without the implied desire to grow and cater to an audience. Every social media platform now functions on the basic idea that having a platform is good and having a large one is better. Sure, you can still attempt to grind out a career for yourself within a niche but appealing to base instincts is where mass appeal is born and mass appeal is what keeps the likes rolling in and the algorithm in your favor. It’s all about finding your audience and making them angry, horny, nostalgic, or if you’re truly skilled, all of the above. Most importantly, the purpose of these platforms has not been focused on facilitating communication between people that actually like each other for over a decade. Pretending as though receiving a dopamine hit that would make a medieval king declare himself a personal friend of Christian God isn’t the desired effect of these websites is disingenuous.
There’s an old adage about cooking frogs in boiling water. It’s said that you can straight up tell a frog that you want to boil it so long as you also tell the frog that it might get famous in the process. The delineation between Brands and human beings online has always been stark, but its purpose on the 2022 social media feed is mostly ornamental. When it comes to questions like “why did brands weigh in on West Elm Caleb?” the answer is simple: we told them to. Discourse is started, signal boosted, and sustained because it generates revenue for two groups, influencers and brands. The passive viewer receives nothing aside from a day’s entertainment, a weird headache when they try to read books, and maybe someday getting doxxed themselves. We log into the Commercial Zone every day, and we tell it what has our attention and then we have the audacity to ask why there are so many commercials in the Commercial Zone. It’s all commercials. We live in and are commercials.