The end of ‘someone.’

    January 6, 2020

    The following idea is endorsed by all of these people:

    None of them exist.

    They’re constructs, built by an algorithm. Rights released, happy and smiling, but no one in particular.

    Fifty years ago, you couldn’t trust the endorsements in direct marketing ads for lousy products:

    “A miracle!” …Bob

    Because you knew there wasn’t really a Bob.

    Twenty-three years ago, when I created a book with the Weekly World News (yes, this is true), I visited their tiny office in Florida. It consisted of three people and a filing cabinet. Inside the cabinet were pictures of 400 people (mostly friends and former friends of the three editors) that would be cut and pasted in the WWN any time they needed a picture of an expert, a citizen or both. They weren’t news and they weren’t the world, but they were weekly.

    I knew that the Weekly World News was low-brow chicanery, but I have a hunch that not everyone did.

    In 2019, and perhaps forever, we’re now at a new level, one where the polish of photography or video is no longer any clue at all about the provenance of what we’re encountering.

    I don’t think we have any clue about how disruptive this shift is going to be.

    Even the real celebrities we purport to trust (“influencers” deliberately in quotes) are easily bought. It used to be only Rula Lens who we doubted.

    There are people and organizations that are racing to break the fabric of community that we all depend on. Either to make a short-term profit or to atomize/vaporize widespread trust to hide from accountability and to slow change.

    Like all shifts, there will be a counter-shift. But keep your eyes open, because the rules are clearly changing. Remaining trusted and consistent will become ever more valuable as it becomes more scarce. A resolution to be in higher-resolution for those you seek to serve.

    In the meantime, it’s worth confirming the source before you believe what you see.

    -Seth Godin


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