When asked “what do you want to be when you grow up,” surveys show American and British kids dream of becoming YouTubers. This passed doctors, athletes, and astronauts as the most popular answer. People online say it is sad because Chinese kids still want to be astronauts, but becoming a YouTuber is just a reflection of the new American dream: to become a poster.
What Is A Poster
A poster is someone who gains status from posting online. They are live players in the great online game, and are now trained to do it from a young age. Posters fit their lives into what they can post online. They travel to places to post them on Instagram. They pretend to be entertaining so they can make a vlog. They read books, talk to people, and succeed in business so they can write a Twitter thread on it later. Nothing seems to happen in their lives unless a post comes out of it.
Not everyone who posts online is a poster either. Some people have their accounts run by others, they are not posters. If you only post news, links, or photos, you are not a poster. If you never reply, comment on in-group drama (whether it is Twitter, TikTok, YouTube or another platform), or post something controversial, you are not a poster. If you use hashtags, you aren’t a poster. Non-posters are basically bots, they don’t see these platforms as important or they don’t know how to use them.
A poster identifies themselves as spending too much time online, being addicted to their platform of choice, or say that their platform is “cursed” but use it anyways. They model themselves after more successful posters and are always striving for growth.
The Draw of Posting
To show how powerful posting is, look at the world’s rich and famous. They can do whatever they want, but many still want to be posters. Take the richest man alive, Elon Musk. He posts a bunch of reddit-tier memes and spends a lot of time posting. He prioritizes posting, even though he has a lot of important things to do like solving climate change and making humans an interplanetary species. As more evidence of how important he thinks posting is, he’s planning (???) to buy a key posting platform in Twitter.
Jeff Bezos is another example. After retiring from Amazon not too long ago, Bezos lives the American dream: he has posted more and more. He has moved away from corporate announcements to doing things like complementing people’s writings, critiquing the president, and talking about his butt. Again, he’s made it to the top of society, could spend his time doing anything, and decides to spend it posting.
There have also been sadder cases of wanting to become a poster. Notch, the creator of Minecraft, sold the game he had worked on, made billions, bought the most expensive house in the world, and posted himself into oblivion. He was cancelled for his posting. Many of his posts also talk about how lonely he is, it’s kind of sad to see.
People are drawn to the endless attention and praise they can receive for posting successfully. A successful poster can change someone’s life and reputation. They see the rewards of posting like opportunity, money, and status. They become hooked on pursuing these, and do so endlessly. Posting is an infinite game, there is no end. The platforms just want you to keep going.
Many celebrities have won Oscars, been a part of massive award-winning TV shows, had their art displayed in museums, written hit songs, and more only to be drawn to posting. A surprising number of celebrities have YouTube channels, they want to share their lives more than they already do. Many others post everything they do to Instagram like they are 17 years old.
Entrepreneurs succeed then want to “share their advice with the world.” People achieve enlightenment and success of some sort and want to spread it to the rest of the world. They want to inform the world of new cultures or explore the depths of humanity. In the end, this means more posts. The rewards people see for posting draws them in and keeps them going.
The Power of Posting
When young people see the rich and famous have posting as a key part of their life, they are inclined to see posting as a key to life. This is a new phenomenon. Humans have always told stories, but usually to people we know. It is only recently that we can post for the entire world to see and it is radically reshaping society.
Posting is seen as the promised land. Getting good at posting means you can do what you enjoy doing and get paid to do it. You can become famous by posting. You can have your ideas shared with the world. Opportunities you’ve never imagined can pop up. The path is probably more difficult than they make it look. For every successful poster, there are thousands who fail. There are millions of people posting daily waiting for their big break that will never come.
The rich and famous get the rewards of status and attention they seek in other ways. Status at this scale isn’t something you can buy, it must be earned by posting. They want their lives and ideas to be shown to more people. They want to be better known, and strangely, create a legacy for themselves through posting.
It’s easier to provide advice than to take it. It is easier to share ideas than to act on them. This is why this dynamic works. People are waiting and wanting to be entertained. They want the secret, and from their perspective, it seems like the secret is posting. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of more and more posting.
The best success cases are great. World-famous musicians and celebrities have popped up seemingly overnight for some TikToks. YouTubers go viral and are suddenly flooded with subscribers and brand deals. Famous Twitter posters like Roon have gone from niche anon accounts to having billionaires tweeting their ideas every day. Even minor celebrities find major fame through some good posts. It seems like the internet’s lottery, but it probably isn’t. It’s more work than you realize, and the ones who succeed have more talent than you think.
Social media platforms are like Pandora’s box, we’ve let them out and we can’t put them back. People will always want to be posters as long as the potential for success through posting exists. My advice is to focus on what you can control. If you want to be a great poster, focus on the inputs rather than the outputs. Care more about your mental health and posting ability than the opinions of others and your follower count. Focusing on something beyond your control is a recipe for burnout. Just because other people are doing something doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Becoming a poster is a way to gain status, money, and maybe happiness, but it definitely isn’t the only way.
Let me know what you think on Twitter.