Well, you’d be correct if you said that advertising is a huge part of it. But, wait a minute. What makes advertising so lucrative? That’s right. Attention.
With over 1.94 billion active monthly users as of 2017, it is pretty safe to say that if you are between 18 and 54 years of age, living in the developed world, and have eyeballs, they are scanning a Facebook newsfeed or profile on a daily basis. Zuckerberg is making a killing because of YOUR attention.
Mark Zuckerberg choose [SIC] the name “Facebook” because “FuckingRetardsArguing.com” was already taken.
Now, I realize some may take offense at the language of his post, but I think he raises a valid point.
Why? The real question is, why not? In our day-to-day social existence we are incentivized to behave in ways that are conducive to achieving our individual and unique desired social ends. I want to keep my job, so I show up. I want to make a new friend, so I don’t call him a “fucking retard” the first time he says something I disagree with. We make judgment calls like this based on incentives every day. Some are monetary, and some are not.
In this magical realm called the internet, there is often very little real life consequence for blasting strangers with vitriol, or saying and doing things we normally wouldn’t if not protected by the glowing screen.
Steem on, dream on.
I have noticed, in general, a different caliber of conversation here on Steemit. I think that owes to a few different things. First, monetary incentives render it generally counterproductive to use the platform simply as a place to “blow off steam” (pardon the pun) and call people all sorts of colorful names never to hear from them again. If you are an asshole, chances are you are not going to be garnering consistent votes. It’s the same in non-cyber life. If I fly the middle finger to every car I cut off on the way to work every morning, every day, chances are when I finally get that coveted job interview I have been aiming for, and the boss turns out to be one of those “fucking retards” I have been cutting off every day, I am not going to be getting the job.
Second, I think that the general type of crowd steemit attracts is a more “serious” one. By “serious” I mean a crowd that is more goal-oriented and purposeful in their posts, and thus one that is less likely to throw around insults all day long. There is nothing wrong with insults, don’t get me wrong (sometimes I think they can be quite called for, really), but one visit to nearly any YouTube comment thread and you will see what I mean. You guys already know that. Sometimes after reading through the comments left on my channel I wonder if there really is any hope for humanity at all…
Finally, I want to get to the main point of this whole write-up:
Some quality clothing.
Care and Quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing. A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who’s bound to have some characteristic of quality.
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Attention is great. Attention is everything. Except…it’s not. Without quality, attention is meaningless. What happens when attention exists in a vacuum absent quality? Just see MySpace.com as an example. People obviously are finding value and quality in Facebook or they wouldn’t be using it. For all the “fucking retard” tirades, there are still people networking, connecting with family and friends, leading powerful activism movements, and now, even running businesses via the platform.
The real value I see in Steem is ultimately the quality. What is interesting is how the quality, attention, and incentives all work together in a beautifully synergistic relationship.
Incentives promote a higher caliber content (as discussed above), which garners greater attention than lower quality content (see “fucking retard”), which finally makes real incentivization possible (you can’t incentivize something if no one is there to pay the incentives).
This synergistic relationship can flow conversely, as well. Quality content makes incentivization possible (let’s be honest, you can’t incentivize shit), which in turn gets people’s attention ($$$), which in turn promotes higher quality content (if you’ve got everyone’s attention, you are not going to want to show them a turd).
The hand-drawn graphic above lays it out pretty well, I think.
Well, considering I have made new friends on here (and met some of them in “real life”), paid some bills, and been enabled to enroll my son in a Montessori school, I’d say the proof is in the pudding. That said, what has ultimately been the most valuable to me here, is the attention afforded to my ideas, via feedback, encouragement (God, the encouragement and relief of finding fellow members of your “tribe” is immense!), criticism, and commentary.
The most important attention, however, has been my own. Incentivization has made it worth my while to invest a lot more time in exploring, researching, and thinking. Digging deep to write a blog from the heart is, as fellow Steemian and friend @boxcarblue says, “transformative.”
To be honest, I do feel transformed, and I also feel that, perhaps, the transformative experience may be just beginning.
Graham Smith is a Voluntaryist activist, creator, and peaceful parent residing in Niigata City, Japan. Graham runs the “Voluntary Japan” online initiative with a presence here on Steem, as well as Facebook and Twitter. (Hit me up so I can stop talking about myself in the third person!)