You can see this happening in reality shows. Participants living ordinary lives suddenly discover that global voyeurism – curiosity about how other people live – can become a lucrative source of income, even wealth. Initially, the couple or family simply lives the life they had while viewers watch them raise their 15 children, or live their lives as young people or participate in some elimination game in which the worst fate is to be expelled from a mansion or to marry someone. unseen.
In a show that airs on the American network with the clever title The Learning Channel, an overweight woman documents her grief in her attempts to find a partner while running a dance club. I guess someone is telling these people that these are just their 10 minutes in the world distribution of 15 famous minutes. I can also imagine that many of these people imagine that they will be different. They will always be casual voyeurs who are interested in what they ate in one day or how they prepare chicken curry.
But the end is coming and you can see which reality shows have content offered by the show’s producers and would never have been a part of the reality show star’s life if it weren’t for the piles of money the show suddenly brought into their lives. There are glaring holidays in Europe and stays in five-star hotels. There are new homes full of elegant luxury appliances and new cars, even when the stars have nothing to do with a career or vocation.
In other episodes, long-forgotten former and rejected friends appear. An attempt is made to create some compelling conflict that will achieve the ultimate goal of any such show: to keep the audience riveted. Eventually, even these ideas begin to run out; the battles that the people in the show are fighting are no longer the ordinary battles that viewers can identify with. Now they are the problem of those who have hit jackpots suddenly, whose incomes have exceeded those of their former friends and jealous relatives. This is the end of the show; the private life he presented was chewed and spit out. In the shadows await other reality stars who think they will overcome this cycle, who imagine that they will be famous and therefore rich forever.
Vloggers suffer from burnout from the constant production of liked and visible content.
Pakistan does not have the avalanche of reality shows that are spreading in India and the West. But while TV networks have stayed out of the game, with the proliferation of platforms like YouTube and TikTok, the former actually paying content viewers, it’s easy to develop your own reality show. See the arrival of vloggers, people who document their days and deeds in front of a camera and then, thanks to some basic editing, music tuning, etc., can create an individual version of a reality show.
Most of these deposits are watched only by immediate circles of friends and family, who have no more than a few hundred views at best. These bets have been consistent for some time, and the vlogger has heeded sincere advice to develop followers and maintain consistency. Most of the time, however, they do not receive the kind of viewership that would make the effort a lucrative endeavor. Some continue to do so, throwing their words and experiences into the world in the hope that someone will hear them, perhaps even take advantage of them, or connect with them.
The real test is set only for those whose deposits take off. Most of those who see this happening are already semi-famous or “close to fame”, which means that they are connected to someone who already has a large audience and is making a deposit. Here again you see the same life cycle of the star of the reality show. At first there is a charming joy; the deposit takes off and thousands of views pay $ 0.18 each. Given the exchange rate between the dollar and the rupee, this means that you can earn a lot of pennies, especially if the deposit is a daily offer.
At this point, the deposits present details of their lives. Avoiding privacy, we are taken to bedrooms, closets and closets, relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, internal fights with friends, tables in restaurants, etc. The best at this are those who just don’t worry about exchanging their personal lives for money. Since there was no monetary value placed on privacy, it feels like easy money.
What they don’t seem to realize is that at some point during this chase, the stars of this self-produced show move from documenting their lives to choreographing their lives in the name of vlog. When recording yourself is your source of income, then it’s hard not to make decisions based on successful blogging, what looks good on camera, or what viewers engage the most. Suddenly, living conditions are transformed from valuing their intrinsic value or pleasure to whether they are good material. Then there is the constant fear of losing viewers and the views they have gained so far, a fear so real that viewers begin to control, not just consume, the content that is presented to them.
It may seem surprising nowadays, when everyone is an influential person, that these self-made stars suffer from burnout from the constant production of liked and visible content. Some experience such a psychological decline that they have to give up completely. Others need to cut back or take breaks or just lose viewers. This is a terrible result, but one that proves that monetizing something that was not originally monetaryly valued can have consequences. People’s personal lives can seem like easy money when the truth is that there is no such thing as free money.
The writer is a lawyer, teaches constitutional law and political philosophy.
Published in Dawn, June 1, 2022