Selling art is about selling the self. By buying art audiences fulfill hidden desires, take part in exotic adventures and promote politics their own status would not permit. Owning someone’s work is the safest way to participate in their life story. Much like in the stock markets, the brand is in focus and what the artist says in public affects the value. Investments in living artists are risky – we inevitably blurt out something to devalue the brand. The internet makes protecting the personal brand difficult since audiences have access to behind the scenes status updates, which prove people are equally foolish. Because of this, smart netizens on Facebook use clever puns as names that leave the uninitiated out of the loop, while avoiding insults caused by rejected “friendship requests”. As I decided to join this smart class, I had to decide what to do with my existing profile. It’d become socially toxic waste. There is no social etiquette to retreating from social media. I decided to do as all corporation stuck with toxic waste: I started to trade with it.
Selling virtual good like World of Warcraft accounts is an expanding industry, so there definitely is a marked for my product. Imagine a Japanese school girl using a bearded Finnish mans Facebook profile in a live-action role-play scenario. I settled for the price of 1,143€ per friend, so I would get 450 euros for 392 friends. I placed a screen capture of my profile page on the Finnish eBay, Huuto.net, and went to bed fantasizing of profits. In the morning, I regretted what I’d done and told friends about it. Instead of being offended, they liked it and started bidding. The only ones objecting my sale were Facebooks Terms of Service – as a Huuto.net clerk told me after removing my ad. I also found out that creative traders had long been selling Facebook profiles, when I found online threads from early 2007. I dug deeper and got into a conversation with a trader.
Colleenaoanton: so u need profile?
Me: Jep. With some 500 friends. Possibly with EU identity
Colleenaoanton: ya, okey. I will show u now.
Me: Send me a screenshot if you have one. How much?
Colleenaoanton: 5€ per 100 friends.
Me: Ok. I’ll contact you after lunch.
There are possibly millions of virtual characters and identities for sale out here. Because of the quantity, there are bound to be situations where these “virtual characters” played by viral marketing company employees or bots end up selling Viagra for each others. Potent tradesmen.
A surprising consequence of my attempt to sell my Facebook profile was that I gained more friends. My value is rising. My puny attempts is nothing compared to the man who placed all of his belongings on Huuto.net with the promotional slogan: “When the stuff’s sold, I’ll leave were the palm-trees grow”. He eventually sold everything for 44 007€. As people focused on the hero of the story, the guy who bought the other man’s life has remained silent. He simply continued the game where the other logged off.