What is the price/fee you pay for being active on social media?

If I ask you which one I should opt for, between Netflix and Prime Video, what would you say? You’d perhaps do a cost-benefit analysis based on the fee charged by each platform and the benefits against that fee, in terms of the spread and kind of content.

Now, if I ask you which one I should be active on, between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, what would you say? You’d probably pick one or two of those 4. But you can be present on all 4, because they are all free.

Except for LinkedIn, which also has a premium (paid) version for end-users besides the free version that is the default, no other social media platform charges its users. They are all free.

And when something is free, you, the user, are the product being sold.

I did not coin this phrase. It has been around for quite some time. On the internet, it is credited to the Metafilter user blue_beetle, from August 26, 2010. That user was commenting on the changes at the social aggregation news site Digg earlier that year.

Before that, the phrase was used in the context of mass media and TV, in a 1973 short video called ‘Television Delivers People’, made by video artist Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman. It was a piece of video art delivered as a critique of mass media and pop culture as a control tactic and social construct.

The full transcript of ‘Television Delivers People’… at the end of this post, for your reference.

The crux is this:
In commercial broadcasting the viewer pays for the privilege of having himself sold.
It is the consumer who is consumed.
You are the product of t.v.
You are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer.
He consumes you.

For social media, you, the user, are paying with your time for the privilege of having yourself sold.
You are the product of social media.
Your time, attention and data are being delivered to the advertiser who is the customer.

If that sounds depressing, don’t let that bother you – we’re all in the same boat. But you can do better than this.

For example, the Chicago-based creative services firm McGuffin Creative Group did a survey asking people how much would they be willing to pay for some of the free apps on their phone. Here’s what the results of the survey looked like!

The agency then used this data to extrapolate what these platforms would earn if they considered their current user base! This is a fascinating exercise!

Thankfully, no platform is going to charge you a fee, for a very long time. But, this is also the time you need to ask why you don’t do a cost-benefit analysis about the time you spend on these social media platforms. Just because they are free? But aren’t you paying for them with something a LOT more expensive… your time (besides data)?

On average, we Indians spend 2.25 hours every single day on social media!

Wouldn’t you want those 2.25 hours to be useful to you in some tangible way? Instead of feeling like you wasted your time?

This is where having a purpose and objective for merely being active on social media helps. If you don’t have an end-point… and objective, how would you decide if you got anything out of the time you spend online?

That objective, for any number of platforms, whether it is the time you spend on Twitter, or Instagram, or LinkedIn, or TikTok… should be your guiding principle. It has to add up to something meaningful to your life. You don’t need to leave it to chance and luck with, “I’m spending all this time online to connect with people I know and people like me… and to read things that generally interest me”. That’s way too random for something you indulge for 2.25 hours a day. And a sure-shot way for the platforms to tweak their algorithms to keep on feeding what they know for sure you spent time on previously.

So, here’s the challenge – why should only the social media platforms use their algorithm to manipulate you into spending more time online? Why can’t you form your own personal algorithm of what you want to gain out of the power of social media and make it worthwhile for you?

If you don’t know how to start finding your objective to be active on social media and not waste your time online, my book could come in handy since it is precisely about that 🙂

The book has been picked up among the Top 50 September best reads by Amazon for this reason!

____________

PS: Television Delivers People – full transcript:

Richard Serra, Carlota Fay Schoolman, 1973

Video: (Title screen reads “Television Delivers People. Richard Serra Carlota Fay Schoolman 1973”)

Video: (Text scrolls from bottom to top. The text is yellow, the background is blue.)
The Product of Television. Commercial Television. Is the Audience.

Television delivers people to an advertiser.

There is no such thing as mass media in the United States except for television.

Mass media means that a medium can deliver masses of people.

Commercial television delivers 20 million people a minute.

In commercial broadcasting the viewer pays for the privilege of having himself sold.

It is the consumer who is consumed.

You are the product of t.v.

You are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer.

He consumes you.

The viewer is not responsible for programming——

You are the end product.

You are the end product delivered en masse to the advertiser.

You are the product of t.v.

Everything on television is educational in the sense that it teaches something.

What television teaches through commercialism is materialistic consumption.

The NEW MEDIA STATE is predicated on media control.

Media asserts an influence over an entire cultural spectrum without effort or qualification.

We are persuaded daily by a corporate oligarchy.

Corporate control advocates materialistic propaganda.

Television establishments are committed to economic survival:

Propaganda for Profit.

Television is the prime instrument for the management of consumer demands.

Commercial television defines the world in specific terms.

Commercial television defines the world so as not to threaten the status quo.

Television defines the world so as not to threaten you.

Soft propaganda is considered entertainment.

POPULAR ENTERTAINMENT IS BASICALLY PROPAGANDA FOR THE STATUS QUO.

POPULAR ENTERTAINMENT IS BASICALLY PROPAGANDA FOR THE STATUS QUO.

Control over broadcasting is an exercise in controlling society.

Seventy-five percent of news is received by you from television.

What goes on over the news is what you know.

It is the basis by which you make judgements, by which you think.

You are the controlled product of news programming.

Television programming dominates the exposure of ideas and information.

There is inherent conflict between:

COMMERCE,

INFORMATION,

ENTERTAINMENT.

There is a mass media compulsion to reinforce the status quo. To reinforce the distribution of power.

The NEW MEDIA STATE is dependent on television for its existence.

The NEW MEDIA STATE is dependent on propaganda for its existence.

Corporations that own networks control them.

CORPORATIONS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE.

CORPORATIONS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE TO GOVERNMENT.

CORPORATIONS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE TO THEIR EMPLOYEES.

CORPORATIONS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE TO THEIR SHAREHOLDERS.

Shareholders do not organize and enforce their will. Shareholders will buy stock in companies and don’t even know what the companies do.

Corporations mitigate information.

Every dollar spent by the television industry in physical equipment needed to send a message to you is matched by forty dollars spent by you to receive it.

You pay the money to allow someone else to make the choice.

You are consumed.

You are the product of television.

Television delivers people.

“TELEVISION DELIVERS PEOPLE”

Richard Serra

Carlota Fay Schoolman

COPYRIGHT 3/30/1973

Comments

comments