It’s possible that the internet has destroyed as many dreams as it has created. This might be hard to understand if you’re a teenager, since you wouldn’t have lived through the years before social media. Some people not only lived through this transition period, they had the misfortune of launching a business during the period.
So when were the transition years exactly? You would get a different answer depending on what business you are asking about.
It used to be that if you had a great idea for a television show, you had to pitch it to network executives who had strict rules for receiving unsolicited pilots or ideas, among other unappealing clauses. The internet disruption led to the system we have today where you don’t need to pitch anything to anyone; you just need to take your creativity to a platform such as Youtube or Instagram. There are also cheap cameras and other tools to help you knock a production together. Anybody who once had a business plan based on the old pitch-an-executive model may have gotten disillusioned in the midst of the transition and disruption caused by the internet. The few years during which any industry tries to collect itself and adopt a new model, are long enough to make any creative person abandon their idea. By the time the industry has found its new groove, such a person may have traded their idea for a tie and a desk job somewhere.
I remember when the Nigerian entertainment industry got disrupted significantly. A good number of artistes got a pay day from selling rights to their music, to CD marketers. The pioneering success of many artistes inspired others to go into the studio to record albums that they could also sell. Then what happened? Around 2010, internet downloads and music sharing started to spike. By 2012, it was not in the best interest for many CD marketer to buy the rights to albums because those albums would eventually get uploaded for free. Many artistes have enjoyed commercial success, while taking advantage of the same internet that frustrated many artistes to abandon their recordings. In my work as a radio personality and sometimes music producer, I have heard so many songs that never saw the light of day. Never mind the songs, how about all the artists who just fell through the cracks in those transitional years.
The power of the internet to disrupt business models is so strong that the internet disrupts its own systems. Take this medium, blogging for instance. Many bloggers abandoned their blogs when social media platforms like Instagram (in particular) started to steal away their audiences. The first evidence of this disruption was a reduction in comments on most blogs; people now prefer to comment on social media. And like most disruptions, it confused a lot of bloggers, I think. Blogging still has a place and there are ways to adapt, but the truth is that many budding bloggers have abandoned this trade due to disillusionment.
I believe that there are so many businesses that have experienced a disruption by the internet. I also believe that those who can truly survive so much change in any industry, are those who want to add value and who intend to be around for a long time. If your hope is to cash in on a trend and make a killing, you just might become the victim of a disruption. There are many of such people with relics from their broken dreams gathering dust somewhere…forgotten.