It’s hard to quantify or even describe authenticity. It’s one of life’s murky, mysterious intangibles that you just kind of feel. And like its cousins, love, happiness and purpose, it’s elusive, powerful, unmistakable and a sort of continuous muted pain when it’s absent. That pain, that cringe, is a primal human instinct that’s activated not only when we act inauthentically, but also when we observe others committing various forms of fraud. The aversion to bull shit is hardwired into our fabric, and the ability to detect it is a superpower that separates us from animals and bots. It’s no wonder why, we, as a society, feel so drained. We feign interest, faux-praise, fake eyelashes, pretend relationships, coast jobs, hate filters, cringe selfies, judge posers, and swat a barrage of meticulously crafted advertisements all.day.long. Some of us put a bandaid on it and escape through exercise, travel, booze, buying and weekends. Others of us snap and dare commit to being one of “The Crazy Ones.”
My breaking point was quiet and absolute. It was a Sunday and I was sitting in a coffee shop feverishly skimming wikipedia to shortcut knowledge of circuit boards in order to make a spiffy graph for our client, a manufacturer of technical parts. I knew and cared nothing about what I was doing. I was just a generically capable, compliant cog-person, driven by fear and validation, that, when called upon, would produce intellectual sales documents for a salary served with a helping of prestige and praise. The utter absurdity of my attempt to speed-learn computer engineering just enough to create a bar graph and field 1–3 questions about it was the moment I realized I was being the very thing that irked me everyday on Instagram: superficial, fake. So I stopped, and thought really, really hard about what the world needed and who I wanted to be.
I created Kosponsor, an online matching engine that facilitates the production and sponsorship of authentic content, real videos made by the right people, aggregated from across the world. I figured we had all seen enough contorted butt shots to last us a lifetime, and it was time our phones delivered what our souls were yearning to see. To get it done, we focus on revolutionizing the source of (every) problem: money. If brand sponsorship dollars are redirected from the Kardashians and Company to the true story tellers, whether they’re locals of Zambia, Syrian refugees, Argentinian foodies, spouses of first responders, or former sex workers in Thailand, the content we spend e-le-ven hours a day consuming can vastly improve and diversify. You won’t even have to scroll real fast down your timeline to avoid the #ads if sponsors are more mindful about what we actually want to see and engage with. This is your brain we’re talking about. How many hours of Kylie Jenner pouting have you forced the poor thing to register? I know I’ve clocked at least 16.
We’re just starting and today completed our beta launch contest. Fittingly, “The Crazy Ones,” a digital docu-series that follows four incredible people who gave up being comfortable for being interested, is the winner of our Best Creative Grand Prize. The series is produced by Jubilee Media, whose founder, Jason Y. Lee, also left management consulting to inspire love through his work.
With stories like this, we’re hoping to change #ad and #sponsored from dirty tags we all avoid to watermarks of legitimate, quality content that are worthy of viewership. Digital content doesn’t have to be low-grade or self-serving. It can be full of talent, imagination, information, diversity and love. All we have to do is reshuffle the system.