In the documentary, The Social Dilemma, tech ethicist, Jaron Lanier, discusses the identity-altering effects of social media, but dismisses the notion that we're all products as reductive reasoning, saying, 'It’s the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in your own behaviour and perception that is the product. … That’s the only thing that there is to make money from—changing what you do, how you think, who you are. It’s a gradual change, it’s slight. If you can go to somebody and say, ‘Give me $10 million and I will change the world 1 percent in the direction you want it to change…’ it’s the world! That’s worth a lot of money.'
This got me thinking about coin and cultural capital. It's incredibly easy to monetize my website. All I have to do is click a button and every article, every short story or interview immediately goes behind a paywall. But this would defeat the purpose of why I do what I do. The whole point of the work is so that it can be enjoyed for free by anyone who wishes to access it. A lot of my readers are vulnerable people who use the site as an escape portal. This shlaka is supposed to be fun and creative and weird and occasionally helpful. That's why the joint exists.
Every article I've read with regards to building a website is predicated entirely on bullshit jargon like ROI, SEO or UX. Who the ducking duck cares about anything of this? For some people, however, the bells and whistles is the whole point.
I was chopping it up with a heavily-garlanded novelist a few years ago, and she asked me why I write. My answer was simple: 'I get a real kick out of exploring my capabilities. I write because I really love writing.'
She sniffed and said, 'Wrong answer. The whole point of writing is to gain recognition.'
Though I respected her position, I realized in that moment that our philosophies were contradistinctive. As Ron Swanson wisely put it, 'Don't start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.'
I want The Afrosphere to possess an intensely private texture whereby every visitor feels like they're being welcomed into my home. I want them to feel like they've been poured a steaming mug of Irish coffee with cinnamon and marshmallows, and escape from their daily stress for a few minutes. That's it. That's the reason why the ting exists. It's a joyful, purely egalitarian adventure. And as Fran Lebowitz put it, having fun is a fantastic reason to do something.
Diary entry, Tuesday 8th of June 2021, 9.09am.
Image by DIRIYE OSMAN