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  • Writer's pictureHailo

Are you Verified?

Mr. Chalamet (yes, he's back...) was telling me about "Tinder in real life" the other day -- a video series in which one guest "swipes" yes or no on a line of suitors... I asked him, and myself, and the Hot Literati team in a meeting the next day "isn't that just dating?"

One of the funniest things about the internet is that it's managed to gamify everything -- including the things that never really needed to be gamified in the first place and are quite frankly, not fun games to play at all.

Digital verification on social media started with Twitter in ~2006. Then, eventually Instagram got on board. In my head, all the big social media founders have Mean Girls style group calls where they brag about the upcoming features in their respective digital worlds.

Digital verification and the like counter are two of the most fascinating things to ever happen to social media and the internet IMO. You can read the whole history of either somewhere else on the internet, but let's get into how these things make us feel and what they do to us in the real world.

The other day, I was thinking about the like counter. It funnels two ways, right. You give a like or you receive one. We all already know about the dopamine hits -- blah blah blah -- but I like to think about alternative ways of engagement. What if, instead of hitting one button, someone had to engage and say, "I like this because..." Sure, it's not as convenient, but it creates a fuller digital experience with more texture. So much of our lives and the ways that we live them are extremely flat as it stands now.

Perhaps you hit like because you want to reference back to that thing someday. Imagine if you instead had to retell the point, the story, the punchline in your own words. It's, again, not as convenient, but it requires more of you and your mind and your imagination.

I also think a lot about how "hitting like" makes you a number. Literally. And sure, social media can be democratic-ish, but you're still making yourself a number in a mass of numbers when you choose to engage.

Now as the person receiving the like, especially on the level of hundreds, or thousands, or hundreds of thousands, we know it's extremely addictive. That it creates an attention-hungry little monster inside of each of us, craving the flattest, most un-nuanced, impersonal form of attention.

I think about this in relationship to myself, and my friends who are creators, influencers, social media people often. They will say something funny and then remember it to repeat it for millions online. The line between who they are and who they are performing to be becomes extremely blurry. But isn't it for everyone nowadays? Is it?

I think that verification is very comparable to the like counter In the way it functions now on some forms of social media. You see that someone is verified and you immediately assume that they're important. It's like another, alternative pathway to importance compared to just amassing lots of followers. If you get both, congrats! You won the digital social lottery.

And sure verification functions differently now across platforms, now there is a pay to play version, but substack's is also really interesting IMO. It's a gamified badge for the people performing, and it's a signal of relevancy for the people consuming. Very much like "here, look at this one now, others are looking at it too!" I think we need to be able to better monitor our own thoughts and reactions to the things that Zuck and Musk and whoever whoever are coming up with on their little calls.

I also think as the creator of a digital anything, we have an obligation to think about ethics. Because these things aren't nothing. They are not only digital.

These things affect us in the real world....

For example,

I was at a pre-game, then a club last night. The verified person with the most followers arrived in the middle of the event and everyone turned toward her. Everyone wanted to be around her. Everyone wanted to take pictures with her, to tag her, to be where the numbers and the little blue check are!

Bella encouraged us to get back to our senses in the Subway piece, and I agree, but I'd implore us, again to also think ephemerally. I believe that people have inherent energies and that if we stopped becoming numbers and chasing a little set of pixels in the shape of a checkmark, we would feel, much more deeply, whether or not we actually want to and are meant to be around someone.

Use your mind. Use your heart. Use your senses. Think for yourself. Feel.

For example, tinder in real life?? I've met 5 people just jogging and walking around New York in the past week (remember the man who ran across traffic?? energy!!!) . The real world and the energy in it is out there. The digital is a great supplement, but we have to be willing to push back on the ways that it flattens our experiences of the world and ourselves.

As Mommy Literati, I also feel an immense responsibility to approach us, to approach this digital world ethically. That's why I have a substack and

Like sure, our site is cute and has lots of hearts and links to other forms of our media, but, it's also a place where I can (attempt to) make a safe digital domain for you all. There is a blog. No curated feed made to pull you in. There are buttons. They are all static, which I hope gives you more choice.

There is no like counter. There are badges to show who writes for the blog, but that is all. The only interactive aspect is the ability to make an account and comment. Because I think chatting is the best part of the internet. Chatting across large expanses of space with nuance and humanity and care.

I don't need a group call with Zucky Zuck and tech besties incorporated.

I'm making this place, for myself and for you all out of passion, genuine interest, and love.

We spend so much time on the internet. While we try to fix that, I just want to try to make it a better place to be.

Obviously, I'm not doing Tinder in real life. I'm really out here dating (side note -- please pitch me better names for the dating column or should I just call it Hot Literati at this point? I'm lost). And I love parallels. I love when things connect. I've had a digital checkmark since I was 17. It was affirming until it wasn't. I got my first tattoo at 20, as proof to myself that I do have some sort of agency over my life. In a real way. It's a cross. It reminded me that when I take big steps, leaps of faith, that I'm not alone.

I want to get two more tattoos, soon, and I want you all to help me decide where. At least this way, something of the process of digital verification can, could, will be real. You have chosen to engage with me here, and for that I invite you to decide where the next marks, real marks of agency and choice and embodied living, live on my flesh.

Sure, it's a bit dramatic.

But at least it's real.



1 commentaire

14 juin

poll 2 vote for tattoo placement in this post -->

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