11.19.2020 – faustian bargain

faustian bargain
to commodify, lose your
personality

Since I have been working in ‘online’ since 1995, the way to make money from ‘online’ has always been part of the assignment.

In an article about the new bloggin/social sharing media site named Substack, I was struck by the lanuage in the statement, “It’s a Faustian bargain to commodify your personality.”

Anytime anyone anywhere can work Faust into a contemporary essay is an essay worth reading.

Faust is acknowledged as one of the oldest common legends in print.

The original german story goes back to the late 1400’s.

In 1592 an English translation was published, The Historie of the Damnable Life, and Deserved Death of Doctor Iohn Faustus.

Christopher Marlowe used this work as the basis for his play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus around 1604.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The first part, which is the one more closely connected to the earlier legend, was published in 1808.

It is the story of selling you soul to the Devil tomorrow for short term human gain today.

It worked back then.

It works today.

The article says:

It’s a Faustian bargain to commodify your personality. You’re free from the limiting influences of institutions.

Yet, input from editors is inevitably just replaced with the pressure of analytics.

As teen YouTubers, who were the earliest to experiment with commodifying their personalities confess, the quantification of attention both positive and negative quickly influences our decisions.

There are some sides of ourselves our subscribers want to see, others people would prefer not to …

The author, Sean Monahan, closes with:

In a few years’ time, I predict we may look back at the chaotic information ecosystem of the 2010s as a sort of social media interregnum.

Seduced by the seemingly magical qualities of our new powerful technological tools, we deluded ourselves into believing clout and exposure could be a replacement for dollars and sense.

The fragmentary properties of the internet remain in place. Strong-willed media personalities now have the tools to set up shop and operate independently.

Legacy publications will worry less about trending in social media feeds and more about the conversion rate for subscribers.

Audiences will be less global and more curated.

And most important of all, the social media channels – chastened by the techlash – will return to what they were always meant to be: places for self-promotion, not self-publishing.

Techlash and Faust.

Have to applaud it!

(Why are public thinkers flocking to Substack? by Sean Monahan – The Guardian, 17 Nov 2020)

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