The world has always competed to monetize our attention

Freemium social apps are just a rearrangement of yesteryear’s social logistics. They make a simple offer: ‘Reallocate some portion of your offline relationships online, and get all of this in exchange…’

  1. Ubiquity: you & all of your friends don’t have to travel to meet somewhere centralized;
  2. Disinflationary: you don’t have to pay incrementally (both in transit time and money) for beers & burgers on a Tuesday night so you have a place to hang out or something to do;
  3. Asynchronicity: you don’t even necessarily have to schedule a time to synchronously connect

…all you have to tolerate are ads that are more targeted than the billboards & commercials you’d otherwise see offline.

When you control for these factors — when you consider how little has actually changed — the complaint is the same as it ever was:

There’s plenty to complain about with social platforms, but don’t demonize them about “monetization” when the gripe is with human nature; the need for communication; the desire to be entertained, distracted, escapism, etc.

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away...” 👉