Featured: Top of Home Page

Zoning friendship for commerce

The Consumerist has a link to this site, PayPerPost, which hopes to match companies with bloggers willing to shill for them for cash -- without anyone else needing to knowing about this arrangement, of course. (Media columnist Jon Fine wrote about this site in the July 10 BusinessWeek too.) God bless the Internet. How else would the people with no integrity be able to find each other? "You've been writing about Web sites, products, services and companies you love for years and you have yet to benefit from all the sales and traffic you have helped generate. That's about to change." Hell, why should professional editors at lifestyle magazines hoard all the benefits of belching out disguised advertorial copy? Everyone should be able to dirty their hands in the corporate slush pile. Perhaps people will be able to leverage their MySpace friend lists into earning better rates for doing a little word-of-mouth for whatever product needs pimping. "Hey friendz, just want 2 let u know this Raid roach spray is 2 die 4!!!!" According to the site advertisers should take advantage of money-hungry bloggers "to create buzz, build traffic, gain link backs for search engine ranking, syndicate content and much more." The image of bloggers on the site is worth a click-through -- a bunch of attractive young people hanging out, with a line pointing to one girl that reads "She wants to make money." (It's a glamorous life, blogging.) She's looking into the camera with an expression that seems to say, "Duh, can't you see I've got these chumps right where you want them?"

Maybe the new generation of young self-exploiters really does think of friends as nothing more than a marketable commodity, a deliverable demographic, but the whole premise behind this scheme seems off. I think most people don't want to turn their friends into bargaining chips. It's not as though people are out there writing screeds about their favorite TV shows or laundry detergents on spec, waiting for Madison Avenue to discover them and start paying them for their efforts. Promoting something one sincerely enjoys can feel like a gift one's giving to whoever will listen. You do it because having people finding out about something that's good is its own reward; you can believe (perhaps erroneously, but still sincerely) that you are making the world a better place by letting them know which stain removers have really worked for you. If there is any calculation about it, it's that the advice is a kind of currency exchanged in building up friendships, in building up trust. Introduce a cash incentive, and you invalidate this other currency. After all, the only reason what you might say about consumer goods would mean anything to anyone is that they know you are not getting paid to say it; and if people find out you're taking money to offer advice, they won't take that advice as sign of your good intentions and friendship (no matter how much you really mean it) but as an indication that you are eager to exploit your connections and that you have little use for people otherwise. It would be like selling a friend's contact information to direct marketers and timeshare brokers.

To say something because we actually feel it is becoming harder, ever more rare and valuable as ads infiltrate more and more of the available public space. People, I think, cherish the oppotunity to have non-commercial exchanges more and more as ads become more and more invasive. In a consumer society some of this conversation will be about shopping, and products, but that doesn't mean we want to commercialize it. This lack of sincere discourse in society makes our earnest exposition of our preferences even more sacrosanct, even on blogs, which are ostensibly public domain but in most cases are a way of making a social group tangible, of carving out a space for a friend group to exist. Who would want to sully that space, make it just another place for sale, like the side of a bus shelter or a diner place mat? Because friendships are occurring in the seemingly manageable and controllable and numerically measurable space of Internet, companies are tempted to commercialize the entire process, make friendship a brandable product. This scheme is a small part of that larger cultural effort to let no refuge from the rationale of entrepreneurship and mutual exploitation for profit stand. The message: Why have friends if they don't help you earn anything? Have friends through whatever Internet-driven system you want to name and get paid for being friendly! The point is that you are always ever out for yourself, even in friendship, and this is how it should be -- it's what provides "happiness" and "freedom." This is what happens when unfettered individuality as a moral value is turned into an advertiser's hook.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.