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Episode 28 – Melissa Eshaghbeigi (Dark Futures 4/5)

March 27, 2020

This special episode is the fourth of 5 talks delivered on stage at StartWell’s Event Space on King St W in downtown Toronto on November 28, 2019 for a globally roaming annual series called Dark Futures.

This talk was presented by Melissa Eshaghbeigi,(https://www.linkedin.com/in/eshaghbeigi), a strategist at the Toronto design and experience agency JAM3, and is titled “It’s 2039, you’re either stressed, depressed or cancelled.”

*Dark Futures is presented by globally renowned Futurist, speaker, researcher, and author Nikolas Badminton. (http://nikolasbadminton.com/)

Podcast Transcript

Qasim Virjee 0:20
Welcome back to this the 28th episode of The Star well podcast. I’m your host, Qasim Virjee, the founder and CEO of start well, and this episode is the fourth of five talks that we’re broadcasting as recordings captured on November 28 2019. At an event called Dark futures y, y, z. This talk is by Melissa Chagny. And it’s called it’s 2039. You’re either stressed, depressed, or canceled.

Melissa Eshaghbeigi 0:56
Thank you. So I’m now I’m probably like most notorious for having this kind of last name. If you’re curious. It’s pronounced as Hawk baby. But truthfully, I didn’t really know that for most of my life. I am a strategist at jam three, which is an experience and design agency. And the most interesting thing about me is that I spend a lot of time online, which I know isn’t totally ownable. But I’m innately curious about people. And the Internet is a treasure trove of information. I’ve basically made a career out of reporting to other people and brands about what we’re all up to online. So I’m going to kind of share with you what I’ve seen what I’ve noticed, and we’ll talk about some future implications of the content that we consume. What I’m kind of investing a lot of time in right now is tic tock, which I fully believe to be the strangest place on the internet stranger than Reddit. I still haven’t fully cracked why teens think this is cool. But you can find a lot of interesting things on tick tock I actually recently joined last night. So I say follow me but my username is like username 5236 Something for anyway. Anyways, before I talk about the future, I want to talk about the present. For those of you who might have been offline this summer, you might have missed the fried chicken frenzy of 2019. I’ll do a really quick summary of what happened. But basically Popeye’s released a new chicken sandwich. Big news story right? Up until Chick fil A felt like it was totally appropriate to sub tweet them and talk about how they actually have the best, the original and therefore the best chicken sandwich. What happened was the classic American bedtime story of war between brands, Popeyes quote, tweeted Chick fil A, Wendy’s even got in on the mess. And from there, the internet went a frenzy. Everyone was talking about chicken sandwiches. But they weren’t just talking about chicken sandwiches. They were buying chicken sandwiches. Popeyes ended up going out of him two months worth of inventory in the span of like 10 days. So the demand got even higher. There was hype for meat. From there. There was an announcement around the end of October that if you hadn’t missed your opportunity to get a fried chicken sandwich well, on November 3, you’d get your chance. But then something really awful happened. In Maryland, a young man a 28 year old man by the name of Kevin Tyrell Davis was stabbed and later pronounced dead for cutting in line out of Popeye’s that had rereleased the chicken sandwich. Chief of Police in Maryland said it best How does a confrontation lead to a homicide and 15 seconds, the internet makes us do weird things. It makes us impulsive. And it impedes a sense of urgency. And I don’t think we always talk about it. But there are some people that are talking about it messed up. Anyways, the future is present in in these types of moments. But the people who are talking about it are those founding fathers of the original Internet, the ARPANET. This article came out a few days ago, and they’re not particularly impressed with how we use the World Wide Web. They’re actually horrified if you look at the how to manual, everything that we do goes against what it had originally been stated to use it for. So we’re gonna talk a little bit more about the future. But I want to talk about the hints of the future that exist in the content that we consume. Because I think what we watch and what we read and what we post all have more implications than we seem to believe. So what does the future look like? Well, first of all, if none of these names are familiar to you, that’s totally cool. Because why would you be fine following random children on the internet? But these are these are maybe influencers and the first clue about the future is that you’ll be born with a public and accessible digital record. Your parents will have created and crafted a digital identity for you. And you’ll grow up and maybe question whether or not that is who you are. What if you don’t agree with the filters that they chose? the way that they laid out your story, and maybe you’re okay with that story, but at what age do you get the rights to your digital identity? The kid in the middle, actually, he is 2018. top earning YouTuber. His name is Ryan Ryan plays with toys. Does anyone want to guess how much money he made in 2018? A little less than that he didn’t work that hard that year was only 22 million. Right. So there’s content about you online parents are the curators. And that means that all your home videos will be accessible for everyone in the world to watch, which means an embarrassing moment like getting potty trained. You can anyone can see that. And they can see that at any point that they want their life. Super cute, and you can later share it with your therapist, right.

Melissa Eshaghbeigi 5:54
Alongside anything that you’ve ever looked up, anything that you’ve ever watched, there’s a whole archive, why not bring it to your medical professional. And together, you can work on a diagnosis as to why you are the way you are. You know, with kids growing up with a screen in their faces, they start to think of people as fans and subscribers. This is Elle McBroom from previous video where she was being potty trained. And here she’s talking to her ace family, which is her fan base. And she’s asking them to like and subscribe to her video. Totally normalized behavior right. From there, you’ll start to learn about digital consent in school because much like sex ed curriculum, there will be a digital education curriculum. And you’ll learn that it’s completely inappropriate to photograph people in public, especially without them giving you permission to do so. So in turn, you’ll start making content about yourself and you’ll do things to focus attention. Anyone remember this idiot. And people know that they’re provoking attention, and they’ll do it regardless of the consequences. But we’re reaching this really eerie time where people don’t even really care about them. There’s a whole trend on YouTube of exposing people. If you ever have 10 minutes and are feeling angry, I highly recommend but what it includes is people taking digital artifacts like screenshots of text messages or direct messages, and sharing and trying to dismantle the credibility of another individual because they’ve wronged them. And this will be fine, because you can discredit someone and if they’ve done something wrong, they will apologize. If I was ever to pursue a master’s, it would be in Trisha Paytas she is the most confusing person on the internet. And she makes most of her money by filming herself eating food. And in this video, you can’t hear it but she’s apologizing to Nico Kado avocado, a vegan YouTuber. She called him fat. He didn’t like it, he exposed her. And this, the audio is quite nice. It’s really just sounds of her slurping and drinking water and saying I was depressed. And I shouldn’t have done it. I’m sorry, Patricia has actually gotten really good at apologizing to the point where it’s part of her business model. In 2019. Alone, she’s apologized at least three times. And it’s become something that she’s learned how to monetize, she made $100,000 In the last 30 days, and that’s from SocialBlade so I don’t even know how credible that is. But it’s got to be more than that. And the reason why she’s making so much money is because we find this stuff entertaining. You know who doesn’t like watching someone cry? Who doesn’t like watching someone get their life destroyed. But imagine being the person on the other end of that. Continuing on in the future, the lines between entertainment and reality will continue to be blurry. So we start off with a creator culture creators become influencers and now they kind of become these weird reality TV stars. Does anyone know who these two are? You guys are so lucky. So we have Tana Mojo and Jake Paul. Both started off being fun on the internet. Jake Paul from Vine Tana from YouTube. And they got married this year allegedly ended up just being like a business strategy so they could merge their audiences because Tana had a lot of teen girls and Jake had a lot of children. They faked a wedding, charged people $50 to stream it. And around 66,000 People watch that. So that’s like upwards of a quarter of a million dollars. But then they also had brand deals. So you’re following someone online. And you have this idea that they’re authentic, that they’re real that they’re relatable, but it turns out that they’re just making money off of you in the future Want to point in can destroy your career. You know, if we think back to more of that exposing culture, someone wrongs you, you disagree with what they do takes nothing but a video to dismantle their entire well being canceled culture isn’t new, right? Humans have always been barbaric. We’ve always wanted to destroy each other, but the acceleration at which we can ruin people’s lives is what becomes super concerning. And then there’s that element of entertainment. So this is a video from Tik Tok of a fan filming to the hit by pypl and Kesha timbre. James, James Charles his followers going down after he had been a accused of doing a bunch of really messed up shit in person, by another YouTuber, people had fun watching him fail.

Melissa Eshaghbeigi 10:49
And the future being canceled will be a real fear. And you’ll end up being surprised by who the scariest fans are. Recently, this year, Taylor Swift’s adorable fan base was sending death threats to Scooter Braun, you wouldn’t really imagine being terrified of teenage girls, or at least certain people wouldn’t. But we’re entering a scenario where people can gang up together based on their opinions and destroy the lives of others. In the future, you’ll have a new hobby, and it will double as a public service. And it’s essentially monitoring other people watching what they’re doing. We already kind of see that happen. Now, this is probably my favorite screenshot that I have on my phone. It’s from a fan account called Kendall Jenner closet. And this person does an insanely great job at archiving what Kendall Jenner wears, she does it at a rapid pace, that it’s almost aspirational. I don’t know what image reverse search she’s using. But she’s really good at figuring it out. And I guess one day she had a class or something to do that got in the way of her creating content. And she felt the need to publicly apologize for not being able to tell you what Kendall wore to Sunday service. But there are also businesses that are being manifested out of this habit of monitoring and watching people. Has anyone fall comments by celebs? No. Well, if you’re not in clubs, then I got it. Okay. There’s also comments by athletes. But again, this is simply what it’s become a business to just watch the activity of others online and share it. In the future, your phone will be a weapon, but truthfully, it already is right. You can whip it out and film something that you think is wrong, and share it with the world and have lives ruined. And then this will kind of really stress you out because nothing is private. And another great screenshot. How do I interact with my friends, who I found was sending screenshots of my chats with another friend of hers. I don’t think there is any breakup text message in 2019 that has not been edited by 20 people. And this is going to continue to be true, right? Like your most intimate conversations. If they happen digitally, you can share them with others and get opinions and then have people help draft what you’re gonna say back. This kind of shit is gonna make you super paranoid. And so we’ll see this trend of this continued trend of turning to like really strange, stimulating content, the same place that’s causing you all this anxiety, you’ll turn to it to calm you down. I never thought I’d be into this and yet here we are. But ultimately, you’ll be spending your real life maintaining a digital one because in a future economy, you have three options, get attention, give attention, or take it. I’m gonna leave with this quote. My favorite tweet. Someone wrote please don’t ask me why I delete tweets. If you need to know I’m just not the same person. I was 56 seconds ago. And the future clickbait is not going to be some sort of trigger. It’s going to be a state of mind.