In the old days, the really old days when men were men and Tyrannosaurus Rex ate them like jelly beans, they had no credit cards. They had no money at all, not even pocket change. They didn’t even have pockets.
That meant no pennies to buy penny candy—a major blow to the penny candy industry. It meant no quarters to call a lawyer and no dimes to drop on organized cave criminals in exchange for soft time with a caged lion, from whose paw you once removed a thorn and a significant amount of toejam.
Things changed when an unnamed guy stumbled on a bright nugget of gold. He looked at it then stuck it in his belly button and walked around feeling shinier than thou. “Bellybutton struttin” thus became the first cool way to meet women. (Note: it worked better on innies than outies.)
Suddenly everyone wanted a gold nugget. But you either had to stumble across one of your own or get a gold-painted nugget of questionable origin from vendors known as “phonies” for the phonebones they were always packing. (Note: Women were not fooled, especially when some of the “phony” nuggets proved to be bio-degradable in the heat of the night.)
Men soon discovered you could use gold nuggets not only to attract women but to buy stuff like snakeskin cowboy boots, beer, and a complete set of socket wrenches. To pump more gold into the economy, an industry sprang up to make gold from ordinary metal, like lead. These were the first alchemists. Their motto: “Get the lead out!”
Alchemy, by the way, gets its name from an illusionist known only as “Chemical Al, the bellybutton’s pal.” Al also did card tricks and balloon animals. He was the first man to attempt to saw a woman in half, but was persuaded by her armed husband to “Drop the saw, step away from the woman.” Which he did. Ironically, he was accidentally sawn in half a few years later during an overly enthusiastic cake cutting incident at his 39th birthday party.
History eventually discredited alchemy as “morons goofing morons.” Its purveyors were burned at the steak dinner they were tricked into attending. Served only zwieback and haggis, they still had to pay the full 50 clams a head, tip not included. (Clams replaced gold when people realized they could eat the clams and then use the shells to buy stuff.)
Alchemy has resurrected itself today under a new name: monetization. Instead of chemically altering lead to produce fake gold, people now mount a social media campaign to monetize their gig (aka: their thing, their deal, their bag, their stuffed parrot, their parked gum, their after-dinner mint, their planet, their dooh-dah their rama-rama-ding-dong).
To the uninitiated, mounting a social media campaign is like mounting a rhinoceros at high speed while naked. It can be done but you’d need someone to design the rhino, someone to host the rhino, someone to optimize the search for the rhino if it escapes (bet on it), and someone to charge you rhino-sized money because that’s how they have monetized their gig.
One way people try to monetize themselves is by starting a blog, attracting followers, and then boring them to death. Some simply beg followers for $1,000 apiece with no prospect of ever paying them back.
A small fraction of bloggers, however, figure they have something worth selling and spend their energy attracting more followers, polishing and promoting their product and inviting followers to lively informational sessions. While they are at these sessions, the bloggers strip their homes of anything not nailed down.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.
This is one of the best first sentences ever.
Bradykins: Thanks, mucho. Tyrannosaurus Rex liked it too, but couldn’t just tell me that without trying to eat me.