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- Most popular headline that calls You to the Mined & Milled Community -

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It's mid-day, and you are lying on your couch staring at a giant screen, spending hours searching for something to enjoy on this fine Sunday afternoon. Comfortable with your cuppa, the air in the room is perfectly regulated for a cool "mountain view" feel - and you hit play. It can't get any cosier, right? You have now started scrolling a mile a minute on an app that is seemingly throwing content that is all ‘made’ for you! Suddenly the plot of the show you chose shifts out of the blue - because let's face it you weren’t really watching. For the OCD like me, we will hit rewind and rewatch only to find ourselves back on the phone missing some more and rewinding all over. You tell yourself to keep the phone but something about the phone in your hand while Sheldon rambles in the background is very comforting. When you force yourself to rewatch, you spot a funny, relatable dialogue that you share quickly. And we are spiralling down again.

What is this behaviour and what causes it?

It all starts with two seemingly innocent marketing concepts - content curation and viral marketing. Together, they create one fidgety human who will only be comforted by seeing a thousand things together with as many trains of thought. In addition to contemplating how to cut onions as a cool undiscovered life hack, I can also watch the aftermath of the Turkish earthquake and Oscars parties all at once, while watching the Byrde family go crazy in the Ozarks. So, is it that we are all heading towards the attention span of a puppy or are we being told that more information is needed to survive today?

Let me first examine - Curation. Content as we consume it has been curated or presented in an organised form for a considerable amount of time. Its earliest form was that of a newsletter or a museum gallery. So what changed, if we still have newsletters and museums, but our attention is contested even more? Well now all this curated content is almost like an ad calling your name. We know this museum houses artefacts and stories from across the globe, but now in one corner we have ten things specifically curated for Roman history lovers like you and on another corner, we have 3 things no museum lover should miss, especially you! Yes, you! As Penn Badgley's obsessive killer personality (no pun) suggests, an influx of this messaging creates a menacing conversation in our minds - all from the fear of missing out. Even if you have seen this museum before, tensions still mount. Bottomline - The way we sell what we already know can bring traction to concepts that weren't previously associated with them! I find it incredible the power of curation while we know the perils it presents. Now if you bring back that scale thanks to the internet and social media - we have top 10 makeup products to purchase, top 5 places to visit, top 3 health tips that you must follow with top 10 news in your local area - all ending with - it's for YOU. All that sorting in reality is not just for you but for you and the other 1000 people who are seemingly like you. But let's face it no marketing message out there wants to divert attention away from YOU and YOURS.

On this note, I bring in the second factor - Viral Marketing. Your reel shows the world how to make the perfect Dalgona coffee - you buy the pretty blue ceramic cup, which is slightly rustic, add in nearly perfect baby cubes of ice to a caramel-like coffee whip, and then beautifully pour in milk that is not real milk to produce an effect that would go perfectly with an Italian symphony. Now, you, being the focus, are led to believe that you can be recognised by starting something seemingly unique or at least nostalgic. Before you know it, those 1000 people like you make the same video and put it out there. And just when you thought this was taking attention away from you! They incorporate the concept of ‘community’ to the center of your viral ad. You are the leader and the north star and everything revolves around you. You will lead and help lead a team that makes coffee that needs more than an afternoon off. That's OK as long as we keep you at the centre of your own universe.

So now people like you and me are surrounded by ideas that are made for us and by us. We always aim to bridge that distance between you and us as much as a pendulum moves. Curation and going viral are the two ends - I (you) and the relational I (us). As such, a small reel curated for me as the top 5 funniest Harry Potter moments would be relational art for me, as would me sharing a video of watching the movie or being on set for someone else. Everyone doing this means you will never truly be anywhere and yet be everywhere.

So back to the couch. I am a distracted human surrounded by tools that push us to walk through a matrix of online and offline curation. I seemingly am building a sense of belonging, but we are collectively chipping away at our ability to think, stop and analyse.

To add to this, we now have a tool that answers our questions with sorted content written by us and for us: Enter - ChatGPT.

Makes me wonder what if this is not who I am? Struggling in truth - While I sit and sip my ‘labelled to an annoyance’ Starbucks cup, it’s only a matter of time before ChatGPT prompts - ‘Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Sana. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us.’


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