When I was still teaching, I saw a distinct shift in the attitudes of my students from years past. When you would ask tenth grade students what they wanted to do for a career, you would get sensible answers mixed in with answers about being professional athletes. In 2018, something interesting began to happen: students began telling me that they wanted to be social media influencers and stars.

When I first heard about Tik Tok, it was because one of my students became famous on the platform. She had over a million followers and was becoming a quasi-celebrity. We would host other schools for sporting events, and she was the captain of the cheerleading squad. Students of other schools would approach her and ask for her autograph. This made every other student of the school want to try out Social Media as a career.

I once had an in depth conversation with her after watching one of her YouTube videos. The videos are of nothing but teenage mindlessness. She told me that she was making about $5,000 a month of of those videos. I told her that the only reason that she was making so much is that she was young, pretty, and female. My advice to her was that she invest the money for the inevitable day when she was no longer young and someone younger and prettier came along, “After all,” I said, “do you see 17 year olds still watching you when you are 30?” She ignored that advice, and was busy spending the money on designer purses and clothes. She and her mother (who was helping her spend the money) were trying to get her a movie or TV role in California.

That was three years ago, and I just looked at her page: At 19 years old, that young lady has over 600 million views and 5 million regular followers, JUST ON HER TIK TOK page. Her Instagram page has another 1 million, her YouTube has over 200,000. So a total of 6.2 million people tune in to watch her videos. To put that in perspective, ABC’s World News Tonight has only 7.3 million regular viewers. A 19 year old making videos about putting on make up, how to do your hair, and the latest Social Media dance moves is scoring as many eyeballs as a nationwide television news show.

The impact that social media is having cannot be overstated. Influencer marketing is a $14 billion industry. Businesses report that they receive $5.78 return on investment for every dollar spent on influencer marketing. Teens are largely turning away from conventional media and turning to Social Media.

We need to pay attention to what is happening on Social Media. Teens are our future, and their future is being sent out on Social Media.

Categories: economics


T Town · November 30, 2021 at 12:13 pm

Face it, western civilizations are doomed.

Big Ruckus D · November 30, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Idiocracy is here. Along with scores upon scores of whores, both of the merely attention seeking variety, and the more conventional type just doing it for the money.

Once upon a time, humanity produced immense Cathedrals – sans computer aided drafing and design – and musicial geniuses such as Bach and Tchaikovsky. Those were, objectively, truly impressive achievements. Now we churn out vinyl clad shit boxes and mindless teenagers who shake their ass on camera (in yoga pants and booty shorts, or less) for money to spend on handbags. Of which fakes are made in the same Chinese sweatshops that make the originals. And porn. Metric shit tons of porn. Which is just fake sex to be consumed vicariously as another fake drug by people with fake lives.

The entire notion of human advancement has become a self evident sham. The money is fake, the science is fake, modern medicine is largely fake (reverting to the snake oil business model of old), the food is fake; can’t even use real sugar, so we get HFCS, the news is fake, the president is fake. Hell, even the suicides are fake and gay. Just ask Epstein. Or Ghislane in a few days.

Standing back and assessing the state of things objectively, humanity really is a giant fucking stupid joke, just getting high on its own supply. Like the formerly pretty young girl, who could once show off her rack for money online, as a species we hit the wall a long time ago and are now solidly in the pathetic and embarassing stage of trying to cling to our past glory. We’ve been relegated to tending bar at a dive while wearing a low cut top and still thinking we look hot despite our geriatric sagginess.

Max Barrage · November 30, 2021 at 2:23 pm

Those numbers aren’t real. For whatever reason, this girl is being promoted by TPTB. No idea why, but the idea that some random chippie can amass that many followers just by word of mouth is complete BS.

    Divemedic · November 30, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    Of course, I can’t verify the numbers. I can, however, tell you that she was making $5,000 a month two years ago, and she is making far more than that now. She moved out of the house on her 18th birthday, and the only income she has is from her social media accounts. She made a YouTube video about makeup, and that one video alone made her over $1,000. Youtube pays 0.2 cents per viewing. It takes half a million views to get $1,000. She is making $5,000 a month. You do the math.

Don Curton · November 30, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Used to, our access to video entertainment was limited to several hours in the evening, and even that was limited to whatever corporate offerings were on hand from the big 3 networks.

Now we have access to video entertainment 24/7, in 3 to 5 minute snippets, in our hand at all times. Waiting for a meeting to start at work? Time for a video. Goofing off while the boss isn’t looking? Another video. Boring conversation at the house? Play a video (silently) while pretending to listen. And because any idiot can post videos too, the sheer volume allows us to fine tune to exactly what we want to see, over and over.

I think it was the Dilbert creator who said that 5 minutes after the virtual reality chamber in Star Trek was created (new generation? I’m not that big of a nerd to know). Anyway, 5 minutes later all other human accomplishments would instantly end. Because every single one of us would instantly choose the perfect gratification that it provided over any other thing ever. Well, we are pretty close with all the cell phones right now.

And your advice was absolutely correct. If there’s not any substance to her video (other than youth and beauty), then better save that money now cause it’ll come to an end sooner rather than later.

    Divemedic · November 30, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    I told her to save the money for some sort of education or even to buy a house, because even if she didn’t go to college, she would need either a job skill or a paid for place to live if she wanted to have a successful life.

    Instead, she moved out of the house and is living with another (male) social media star as her boyfriend. They are living in New York, both with no other job than social media. They don’t even own, they are renting a Manhattan apartment. My prediction is that this will have run its course before she is 30, and her “fans” will now be adults with adult responsibilities, kids, careers, etc. and won’t have time for her videos.

    Meanwhile, teens of the next generation will have moved on to the next trendy platform, leaving Tik Tok for the old people. (Much like Facebook, MySpace, and other platforms were abandoned by follow on generations.)

      g · November 30, 2021 at 4:05 pm

      “My prediction is that this will have run its course before she is 30, and her “fans” will now be adults with adult responsibilities, kids, careers, etc. and won’t have time for her videos. ”

      But, until reading this post, I hadn’t thought of the power ($, influence and all of the implications of a 19 year old getting almost as many views as the network news) of social media.
      At best this is like the rudder of society’s ship swinging wherever the wind blows it, and it’s probably a lot worse than that.
      This is like the star trek virtual reality chamber example Scott Adams mentioned and I’m sure mad scientists are working on an even higher level virtual reality with smells, feels etc added.
      Shoot me now.

    Skyler the Weird · November 30, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    Five minutes after the Replicator was invented everyone ate banana splits instead of salads. All the Star Fleet personnel would look like the plump and paunchy people in Trek uniforms at Star Trek conventions.

Russell G. · November 30, 2021 at 5:12 pm

It’s merely attention seeking behavior serving solely as self-reinforcement. It’s a also a secondary reinforcer at that. That’s why China bans it. That’s why radical Islamic states ban it. That’s why there are so many people neurotic by any psychological norms pre ’80’s, and that’s why over 70% of twatter users are external to the U.S.

Odd, no?

Donna · November 30, 2021 at 9:10 pm

My kids watch a set of YouTube creators who cross-promote each others’ channels. A lot of the money is in selling T-shirts and other merchandise. The content shows things that are new, silly, and/or expensive, and avoids politics and racial hypersensitivity. Some of these people have been working for years now and have long backlists of older videos that are still being watched.

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