After the rise and fall of my content farm, HIPSTER RUNOFF, I'm back to generating text-based internet content, or what people who have never generated content call it, "writing." During my breakdown, I lost the ability to 'normally consume culture' as a happy internet bystander. I once believed that I created original content, influenced, and altered the world.
Now I can only see the world through a lens where I analyze topics and approach them from a scalable perspective. I encounter every thought, image, video, infographic, and meme and ask, "How can i convert this into content? How scalable would this hypothetical content become within the mediums of viral acceptance?"
I do not see the internet as an organic community of shareable ideas packaged in the form of content. It is an elaborate arrangement of code strategically pushed into popular mediums to contort your reality, making you more dependent on that elaborate arrangement of code.
LIFE ON THE CONTENT FARM will document my perceptions of the world from the perspective of a high end post-content farmer trapped in the content farm context. Arranged words are only so scalable because the majority of people are basically illiterate and would prefer video/slideshow content anyways.
Viral memes like, "What color is this dress?" remind me why there is nothing interesting worth doing on the internet. Even if you could write a blog post called, "The Secret to Universal Happiness" that actually contained the secret to universal happiness, it would be impossible to reach an audience of people who were genuinely on the quest for universal happiness. Instead, you'd find your content lost in the sea of pages created by media companies and retailers. You will get lost on their website, derailing your search for universal happiness.
You will never find universal happiness. You'll probably just find some long-winded TED Talk that makes you feel 'smarter' based on the visual presentation of the content you consume.
The colored dress is the most successful kind of content, regardless of how the content creator voices his/her 'opinion' or how eloquently the meme is instantaneously/historically contextualized. "Everyone" is required to know about the meme in order to 'fit in' to lamestream office conversations and published conversation threads. It is just an image that is embedded at the top of a page, and the writing beneath it doesn't really matter while ppl create their own content/commentary [via discussion]. The picture is easy to display when holding up your smart_phone. The thumbnail image that 'represents' the post exists in the sidebar of the media company's page as a universally relatable image that everyone can click on after reading the optimized headline.
The blue dress reduces the internet to its optimal purpose, delivering information that loads as instantaneously as possible (on ur device and in ur brain). The internet is just a pretty reasonable space where quizzes make more sense than 'longform.' Video makes more sense than two paragraphs of forgettable blurbing. Reading one character makes more sense than reading 10 characters.
The dress represented the perfect piece of internet content.
It was appropriately immersive, organically sharable in every possible channel, and allowed people to perceive the internet as altering the IRL_world, creating a space where the internet itself could be discussed by ppl who are obsessed with the internet.
The dress itself was the focal point of the content. Artfully crafting a blurb or explaining the 'story behind the meme' does not matter. All that matters is shocking the brain with the CoNFuSiNg DrEss! No matter how 'high end' or 'authentic' your message might be, you are ultimately creating a landing page that is to be interpreted by an audience as 'a trend.'
Virality is more of an orchestrated process of technological steps than it is something 'organically created' by 'social media users.'
Perfect content generates 'natural' engagement that supports social media as a mechanism for natural engagement.
The 'real world' is so segmented that your neighbor has an entirely different set of interests than you. However, the internet created the opportunity to create analytical models to monetize trends in engagement. Pageviews, new unique visitors, comments, shares, reblogs, retweets and likes are all arbitrary analytics that we have accepted as validators on the internet. There is a significant segment of Western_world_internet that connected with the dress meme. They 'took to social media' to be heard on the topic. The legacy of the meme was promoted, and within months, the meme can be recirculated as nostalgia-wave content.
In order to ''go viral', the content cannot just rely on Twitter--true mainstream virality requires validation in the social algorithm of Facebook. The current viral paradigm leaves online content dependent upon Facebook to reach the farthest outliers of the world. Even though Facebook creates barriers for content producers to have their content reach their fans, it is still an opportunity to reach the technological laggards of society who are the biggest segment. Many content farms have built their digital strategy around Facebook. Basically, the digital outlet is rewarded for uploading the piece of content into Facebook, as opposed to providing a link away from Facebook. The more comments within the Facebook thread, the more social streams will be invaded.
Approval from 'Respected Outlets'
One of my favorite phases of viral memes is when it is 'covered' by 'respected' media outlets that don't have the brand of being purely garbage content farms. However, these respected brands are just as dependent on mass market memes. Many of these pieces take a 'big picture approach' to explaining the meme, utilizing their 'authority' to 'give a deeper perspective' than just asking people what color the dress is. They use 'reporting' and 'the art of writing' to bring the process of 'going viral' 2 life. They 'explain' the meme to people who don't really use the internet while simultaneously trying to relate 2 'ppl who are dependent upon the internet.'
Approval from celebrities on social media
In order to seem 'relatable' to the working class of humans, celebrities are required to monitor social media networks and give their takes on crap. This is what makes them 'normal.' They reinforce the mechanisms that turn them into trends in order to stay trendworthy, reinforcing the social media medium as a context that shapes a version of reality that gives them reach. Taylor Swift 'took to Twitter' to 'weigh in' on 'the controversy' that is 'the dress that is melting the internet!' This means it is important. We are all in this together, creating virality organically.
Explaining the dress from a scientific perspective.
Since most shareable content is just unverified filler, 'talking to a scientist' who allegedly 'specializes' in an applicable field can make it seem like you 'actually care'. Even though we don't understand niche specialities in science anyways, it is always great for an 'authentic content farmer' to write an email to a respected professor at a university to get a quote. You could probably even just ask the dude working at Lenscrafters in your local mall for an opinion (or Neil Tysson-Degrassi). This type of science-driven content is optimal for outspoken Facebook content sharers who want to position their online brand as being 'above every trend.' Getting some science-wave explanations helps us 2 'understand the world' [via science].
Utilizing an ambiguous voice that represents the 'voice of the a general audience.'
My favorite trend in content writing is the generalist content farmer voice. It creates a pansexual, inoffensive tone that is optimal for sharing. For example, "We hope that we can figure out what color we think the dress is before the argument gets too heated! Let's just agree to disagree!" This tone allows you to write about any 'controversial' or superficial topic, but allow all readers to be immersed without feeling too tethered to a strong opinion.
"Can the dress help us realize that racial issues don't matter bc our brains just see colors different n e ways?" -a thinkpiece wave writer
Every content creator is dependent upon weighing in on a 'trend,' reinforcing the constructs of the internet as place where things 'organically' spread. Here I am, living life on the content farm, stuck writing about something as if I am 'above it' but the opportunity for this post to reach a mass audience has already passed. In fact, the timeliness of the post puts it outside the maximum opportunity to capitalize on the optimal sharing window.
Who is even still interested in the dress?
How can I appeal 2 ppl who like to think they are 'in' on trends b4 they are popular?
Why must the internet be 'understood' by those who do/don't use the internet?
Why must my social identity be constructed on a relative connection to a segment of strategically scaled culture [via internet content]
Why am I even writing about content when mass audiences are not interested in breaking the fourth wall of internet content?
If I found out what color the dress was, would my life/the internet/humanity/the human brain make more sense?