The Orion

The price of cool in social media

Matt Murphy

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The world has always been obsessed with mass communication. The more people who know about something, the better.

In a time since passed, there was a necessity for this mothered invention. The printing press, the telephone and the internet are all forms of mass communication one could argue we cannot live without.

Oh, how things have changed.

I will not try to make the ludicrous argument that social media is a societal necessity. I mean, today I let 100 people know that I like my made-up porn name.

It’s “Charles Del Oro.” You know, middle name plus the street you grew up on? Okay, it’s not important.

The point is, social media may not be necessary, but it’s been deemed cool. When something becomes popular and cool, it’s a fair bet that someone will try to monetize it.

The only problem is investors and companies are finding it very difficult to monetize popular and cool.

The only way websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr make money is through advertisements or promoted posts, since using the websites is free.

When Tumblr was bought by Yahoo, it only had about $16 million in cash left. Doesn’t sound like an enterprise making a lot of money, does it? But Yahoo bought Tumblr for over a billion dollars, affirming for those that didn’t already know one thing: cool may not make a lot of money, but there is nothing more priceless than cool.

Face it, it’s how we all exist online. We’re all trying to look cool to someone, whether it’s our friends or professional people who make more money than us and come across our accounts.

Yahoo is hoping to look cool to us by being associated with Tumblr, the same way I’m hoping to look cool to girls who follow me on Twitter by following Nick Wooster. That’s essentially what they paid for.

There’s money to be made in everything, so I have no doubt that Yahoo will find a way to make money off people reblogging pictures of pizza.

They can take their time as far as I’m concerned.

Because as a consumer of life, isn’t that the only power we have left? To decide for ourselves what’s cool and what isn’t?

We’re bombarded by advertisements and campaigns that try to tell us what’s cool, but we’re still the only ones who can really decide. And there’s no surer way to make something undesirable than to make every aspect of it for profit.

I believe that day will come with social media, when it changes to fit a business plan too much for the consumers. The cycle has happened before.

Remember Friendster? Right, me either.

Matt Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or @matthewcharlesz on Twitter.

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The price of cool in social media