On “Brands,” Advertising, and Queer Small Business

So, let’s talk about the Twitter migration and this trend in alternative social media (especially Mastodon, but also Tumblr – Cohost has been relatively free of this for the most part) to take concerted efforts to attack “brands” and make them feel unwelcome and drive them off the platform. What a noble goal, right? Fuck capitalism and fuck corporations!

Except: guess what’s also a corporation? The two-woman bookstore operation trying to sell you indie queer books (that’s this one’s business). Guess what’s also a “brand”? The artist trying to eke out a living off of commissions and Patreon. The facts are that we all, unfortunately, do live in a society that requires money to exist – and often, a lot of money. Small business and self-employment is the reality for a significant portion of the queer community, for reasons from disability to discrimination and whatever the fuck more. Corporate jobs suck.

So we create. We draw, we write, we paint, we photograph. Our lives, our bodies, our experiences, everything. We distribute and often lay ourselves bare with our art. We try to carve out our little space to provide a living and put food on the table. Except it’s not that simple. If we don’t advertise our business, we don’t fucking exist. Business pages used to be able to get visibility through Facebook just by posting. It’s 2022, fuckers. If we don’t pay for advertisements and boosted posts, we don’t exist. But if we do? Evil corporation. Scummy advertisements! Once a social media platform categorizes your account as a business account, you have to pay for traffic. It’s all about SEO.

A Mastodon post from user @tchambers:

Just had to suspend our first spammer for a while - who tried to use his account on this instance to sell downloads.

Just a reminder of our terms of use: zero tolerance on spam or directly hawking your goods or services to this community.

#Admin #IndiewebSocial
A post after his banning of a good friend and misgendering her in the post. Not everyone is a well-off white man at multi-million dollar political firms, Mr. Chambers. Why don’t you just call us slurs instead? Fuck you.

We can barely afford to pay ourselves to begin with, and this trend is further worrying. It’s not gonna be McDonald’s and Microsoft that suffer from this.

It knows this is asking a lot from the internet, but engage with some goddamn nuance. If you really believe in supporting queer small businesses that create the art and writing and products and that pay livable wages? Boost our posts. You know who can survive their advertisements getting blocked constantly? Yeah, megacorps. You know who doesn’t? Yeah.

It’s not enough that we barely make money, it’s not enough that we put everything we can back into the community, it’s not enough that the whole queer independent business sphere is essentially passing the same couple of hundreds back and forth. There’s some people who really are so taken and obsessed with the idea of living in a moneyless utopia that they refuse to see the reality that we live in and the fact that we need to eke out a living in this hypercapitalist hellscape. And they’re absolutely being vindictive about it.






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