Generation Sell-Out: The Underrated Virtue of Creator Shops


Guys, today is a mental no bones day: on the cusp of taking my first vacation in over a year,  I feel myself already defeated. It’s a staycation because I find traveling extremely disruptive, and I’ve scheduled a few mandatory team meetings to attend during my days off because I’d rather be harried and put-upon than enforce boundaries. So bear with me as I indulge in a little ramble. We’ll get to the point, I promise. Eventually.

But first, this newsletter, which naturally I could only start writing after the 4 pm dentist appointment with Glendale’s sole remaining provider on ZocDoc, I haven’t ghosted twice already. (No cavities, thanks for asking. And despite the fervent, deeply-held belief that drove me to take the chair in the first place, no chipped molars, deep-seated infection, or incisors serving loose. Readers, my gums didn’t even bleed. Maybe I’m anemic.) 

So, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. Sue me for wanting to keep things spontaneous! My thinking is: what’s the purpose of keeping detailed notes in a planner when time is just an illusion? Or flat circle, as evidenced by the fact that True Detective’s first season premiered a decade ago holy god. When left to my own devices (wherever they may be), I like to set everything to reoccur infinitely. I do less out of love for repetition and more out of a natural disinclination to go over previous works and strike entire lines of text I’ve taken the time to write. This is also why I’m not a great self-editor.

Some days I’ll open up my personal calendar only to be reminded of an upcoming therapy appointment with someone I haven’t seen in six years; the upshot being that no one can force me to explore this more next session.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am naturally repelled by the whiff of structure, which paradoxically makes me the last person who will ever buy a personal time management product and apparently this product’s most sought-after demo. While my partner gets ads for modular workstations and dogsitting robots from Kickstarter, my Instagram feed is clogged up with pastel meditation apps (not on your f*cking life, Inception,) glorified Goop life planners that cost more than my monthly Internet bill, and something called


I forget who first recommended the AI “Magic To-Do List” that helps neurodivergent people in breaking down work and chores into time-sensitive but manageable micro-tasks. Putting timers on tasks like “making the bed,” “cleaning the room,” or “finishing a newsletter” may have seemed insulting to me as a child, but to the adult woman in the middle of the second 3 a.m. mental breakdown in two weeks over a broken plugin on WordPress, this app is a godsend. 

In theory. Allegedly, I could use to clean the room in an hour, help me cook a meal, or estimate the cost of fixing my car, but I’ll never for sure because I forgot to transfer the app when I got my new iPhone, and now I don’t know where that is either because this place is SO MESSY.

But enough about me! How are you all self-regulating these days? No, actually, how? As we’ve discussed many times before, terms like “creator” and “influencers” are poor descriptors for a workforce of small business owners (you) who double as their own product (“brand”). The government may not recognize the content industry, but you know who does? The banks. Private investment firms. Visa. Every single brand that paid $7 million to run 30 seconds of ads at the Super Bowl and the news media declaring creators the real winners of the evening. 

That’s why it’s called a “creator economy” and not “creator e-craft virtual swapmeet”; it’s also why TikTok is trying to compete with Amazon by pushing its Shop feature, the livestream equivalent of Temu QVC. Just go live, talk to your fans, hawk a few cheap headphones or weird lip goo, and watch the ad revenue split trickle in. See? Isn’t that better than some silly old Creator Fund?

And the thing is, I’ll fall for it every time. Unlike their millennial predecessors, who believed success was coming up with a single unicorn app in a dorm room and finding a friend to code it for you, Gen Z knows the value of the hustle. Every day, they are out there creating rigid schedules for consistent viewership, building a following, developing an authentic brand… and then they get to monetize it, maybe by selling something else. Whatever, it’s in for a penny, in for a pound (with free shipping). I’ll buy anything recommended to me by somebody I like on the Internet. I’ll also buy from people I don’t particularly like. My house is full of junk that I do not need because I felt seen by the creator selling it to me. The system works, y’all. I don’t knock the hustle…that’s just late-stage capitalism, baby. 

I dare anyone of my age to pass judgment. I know I peaked while doing my dream job of writing fan fiction about TV shows for a major newspaper outlet, moonlighting at night as a ghost-writer for a novelization of a girlie blog that eventually sold to CNN for a million dollars. I was always looking for the Urban Outfitter angle: what could I make that would have the enduring popularity of the one with the dinosaur that said “All My Friends Were Dead?” And I’m a carbon offset compared to my colleagues. I came up in a time when many creepy weirdos were selling “disruptive” technology that seemed game-changing. And it was, in the sense that it stole all our data to mine and sell to advertisers, killed the trad news industry, and tried selling us on virtual real estate that we could only enjoy legless. That’s just the stuff that I can still write into a quippy joke. I don’t need to get into the dark stuff tonight.

It wasn’t just social media. We were a generation of scam artists with half of a good idea, and we made billions. (Well, not me. But people I knew! Friends of friends, who I’d later unfriend.) Who can forget “Cabs: hailed from your phone!” Or “Work from home, but offsite and you pay money to sit in an office and drink tap kombucha.” And my favorite, “Blood Box: Put your blood in that little box over there right now, please. Why? Because it’s worth $9 billion dollars and was almost available at every Walgreens. Officially endorsed by Henry Kissinger. Blood now, thank you.”

These are literally just the examples I picked from that one month of 2022 streaming Bad Founders bio-dramas. 

Those people are still taking commissions from every sale you make on their platforms, but I commend this new generation’s creators for knowing the value of a hard day’s work. Please, keep selling to me. I prefer the honesty of transitions born out of parasocial relationships: I’ve chosen to support you, and in return, maybe I get a discount code or something. Really, just sell me whatever you’ve got lying around…it’s not like I can make these decisions for myself.


Won’t Someone Please Think of the Advertisers?

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