Journal

A boy from a clubhouse in L.A., US

I just read a highly interesting, thought-provoking and colourful (the author makes it very easy for the reader to imagine all the things he writes) article by Barrett Swanson, English professor at University of Wisconsin and an acclaimed writer, who shared that he recently had couple of his students decide to drop out of school and leave for L.A. He researched where they had gone.

What he found out is a growing community of digital art makers. Here is one story that seemed particularly interesting for me.

A boy in US, age 20 living and working in one of the famous L.A. clubhouses (mansions where, according to the author, companies/real estate agents gather young people and take around 20% commission of the youngsters’ income they make as social media influencers creating content for their branding deals) recently shared that his overnight fame and an increase from five to two thousand viewers came to him after he allowed his followers to listen to him sleeping.

What an abstract thing to do. My 100% Italian friend from Lugano, Switzerland who is a practicing psychologist age 34 (representing a generation not too far from that boy) said that boy might not be aware that he just sold his privacy (not judging and actually also not knowing if that nowadays is a bad or brave thing). And he also made an interesting guess – what if during the sleep you accidentally say something? What if you don’t know that you talk during sleep and expose very intimate or private matter that might be damaging to you or/and your close ones?

If that would happen, knowing how social media platforms work (really, without cynicism), it might have been even greater success and the boy would gain even more followers and potential marketing deals. Like, real-life reality show.

My Italian friend is more sceptical and sad that there is such strong social/commercial movement that take out the highly necessary part of healthy human kind existence – real, face-to-face socialising with two-way communication with other people. I can’t disagree with my friend, however wonder what is next for that boy, and others (including what now sound like the senile I and my friend).

And as abstract as this case might sound for both of us, there is something so interesting about this boy and his potential future.

Is he and similar-minded boys and girls our future? Will we soon see similar clubhouses for each generation? Will we education system include aspects of cooperation and community-building like these clubhouses offer? Will the boy be a lost generation representative living off government support due to not having higher education and living skills outside of his current bubble (and it’s me saying it’s a bubble – nobody said I’m correct) if suddenly world changes course and this niche slows down, or worst – becomes unnecessary? (I very much doubt it, of course).

One random thought the topic of this article gave me was a memory of one older meme that reminded how sometimes value of things change with time – possibly tangible art (like, painting) will be a rare form of art, and going to a shop and buying something off the shelves judging only by the information on the label of its ingredients will be a luxury experience.

And one last thing I really wanted to mention – the closest comparison I can make of the movement happening in clubhouses and how the the content being created there impact purchasing power and how the mindset of humans change – is Wall-E, my favourite animation movie. It ends well for all. ✌️

The featured image: compilation of photos in the article The Anxiety of Influencers, by Barrett Swanson in the Harper’s magazine June 2021 issue.

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