KEY CONCEPT #2
Digital Economy / Digital Capitalism
As we are all aware, money makes the world go round and true success (in my opinion) is not determined by how many likes are on your Facebook but how many bills are in your bank account. But that’s the thing…that’s not what the digital economy is all about and the paradoxical question remains to be answered, do social ties equal success?
The digital economy has been identified and defined as, “the global network of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communication technologies.” (Flew, 24) It basically represents the economic significance the digital community has with its ability to communicate.
Networks Economics introduces an entire new sphere to what capital actually is. “As expressed in the equation N x (n-1) = n2 – n. This would say that a tenfold increase in the size of a network would lead to a hundredfold increase in its value to individual followers.” (Flew, 60) Network economics surrounds the idea that your social capital rests not in the value of your content but the accumulation of it.
Robert Putnam goes a step further in explaining exactly what social capital is, “features of social life- networks, norms, and trust – that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared interests.” (Flew, 67)
While we all like to ‘have fun’ and ‘work out’ those facilities alone do not pay the bills. Social capital, clout, and accumulation of interest is the cornerstone for my chosen industry. Fitness girls desperate attempts (as witnessed in the Nicole Arbour Video) to accumulate interest and eventually turn that into real capital. Thanks to the growing digital economy now more than ever fitness gurus can simply bring home the #GMOFREE bacon by using their social media presence and turning it into cash.
The Internet economy rewards follower-ship with sponsorship opportunities, magazine covers, and in some cases ‘wins’ at contests. In this industry body fat percentage equals only a portion of potential economic success.
There is a rather large sector of social media stars whose primary interested lies in gaining attention (Lewin and the other #InstaFamous girls) and bombarding us with informal content to drive up followers. Yes, we follow you because you look fantastic in a swimsuit and give a great workout video but what is that doing for your bank account? As digital scholars we have learned these Instagram photo shoots and YouTube videos can be costly and in the end sometime the talent makes out with almost nothing.
Then there are those that actually ‘capitalize’ on the digital economy like LaTona that view it as a platform to make money. In other words, X amount of people are following me, so I will sell them Y. Basic economics. Out of the three fitness leaders, LaTona seems less concerned with how many followers or likes she has and more concerned with how she’s going to turn her follower-ship into capital and still maintain a healthy lifestyle true to her origins. She uses her social media to promote her many brands, her husband’s brands, her supplement brands and still manages to do this undetected by cloaking her intentions in a likable, friendly presence. LaTona promotes herself globally and markets herself to the right people in a delicate tightrope absent of the non lucrative likes. Fitness represents only a small portion of the new way to capitalize on the digital economy, as stated in Flew, digital networks constitute, “the core infrastructure of global commerce and new media business being the fastest growing sectors of the global capitalist economy.” (Flew, 24) In this hyper commoditized world, you too can get paid for being healthy.