WhoSay Has It Wrong: Why Sincerity is the New Currency
(Welcome to Super Futuristic, a new regular column by Jess Kimball Leslie, a professional trend spotter.)
What is WhoSay, you ask? Is it a Dr. Seuss book? No, WhoSay is a social media startup begun within CAA and funded by a group of investors with links to the entertainment industry. WhoSay has signed up over a thousand celebrities to attempt to profit off of their Instagrams, blog posts, and other online activities shared by the public. Like all startups, WhoSay doesn't seem to quite know how exactly it will make money yet, and maybe it will be a magazine (great idea, that industry is totally taking off!) or maybe it will be something else.
For now, WhoSay mainly exists as the stamp of officiality that you see on a celebrity's Instagram photo in the lower right AND left hand corners. Look at this picture of awesome Bette Midler making an announcement about a lovely new public park, and then look at the wagon wheel coffee table hideous adornments at the bottom of the picture:
The WhoSay effect is like trying to charge a fan for the privilege of looking at a movie poster.
WhoSay describes itself as being "by celebrities, for you," but interestingly the Instagrams are what's by celebrities, for you. WhoSay is just the claim of ownership, the reminder that the celebrity you admire is also the tool of a massive corporation - which sticks out as hostile in the current internet environment. Ultimately the WhoSay effect is like trying to charge a fan for the privilege of looking at a movie poster, and make the poster uglier while you do it.
You're a terrible Airbnb renter who trashed someone's apartment? Maybe LinkedIn will then find out.
I single WhoSay out not to pick on them, but because the direction they're going in - exclusive, elite, corporate, fake-looking - is the exact opposite of where social media is heading.
In the future, sincerity will becoming increasingly important to social media. On the Internet, our personal sincerity level will be quantified, centralized, our behaviors good and bad noted by the cornucopia of services that we use online. You're a terrible Airbnb renter who trashed someone's apartment? Maybe LinkedIn will then find out, maybe OpenTable, and then there will be some sort of repercussion. If you're a highly reliable renter, worker, and communicator then that will get noted, too.
In the next era of the internet the new credit score will be the sincerity score. WhoSay doesn't understand where this social economy of authenticity is going, and is trying to pull the internet in the opposite direction. They should just give up. It won't work. To the well-funded team at WhoSay, I say: please -- stop littering in Bette Midler's picture feed.
Jess Kimball Leslie is a trend spotter in New York.