There is nothing in life that cannot be monetized. From selling vials of used bath water to livestreaming every moment of the day for an audience of strangers, the internet has enabled us to sell small bits of ourselves—tangible or otherwise—constantly. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to how far self-monetization can be taken. And yet, somehow, it still comes as a stomach-churning shock to learn that a family of YouTubers has found a way to not only generate cash from the actual birth of their latest child with a video entitled “EMOTIONAL LIVE BIRTH - LABOUR AND DELIVERY,” but also turned that baby into a salable online product with an honest-to-god lifesize replica that their fans can purchase.
As Mashable’s Morgan Sung writes, “parents Chris and Sarah Ingham...designed a lifelike baby doll, modeled after [their newborn] Jace at two weeks old, that followers can buy and take care of for only £279.00, or about $340.” Any absolute creep interested in taking them up on this incredible offer can go to “reborn baby” manufacturer Mary Shortle’s website to pick up a “Soft Bodied,” “19" (48cm)“ version of a child they’ve never met. If your unhealthy parasocial relationship with the YouTube family needs further prodding before it converts to a sales, please note as well that this fake baby “will come with 3 hand-designed baby vests one of them being uniquely drawn and designed by Ésme Ingham (age 10). Exactly the way she sees her baby brother.”
There are only a limited number of these insults to god available, which makes sense since Dr. Frankenstein must be allowed work breaks and because buying one provides access to one of several upcoming “specially organized baby Jace Tea parties...where you will meet the Ingham family.” This presents a wonderful opportunity for strangers to present the real baby Jace with his lifeless facsimile, forcing the child to forever question the nature of reality and, more importantly, how to flee his parents’ globe-spanning digital influence forever after.
The Ingham Family, which refers to itself as “the IFam,” are daily vloggers whose YouTube About page promises: “We film everything! All the ups as well as the downs!” The video below, which sees two of the Ingham children being filmed while first confronted with the realistic doll based on their newborn brother now available for purchase, might qualify for “the downs!” in question.
Who knows? Maybe influencers like the Inghams are just doing the logical thing, monetizing every moment of their family life because they understand we live a world where any real notion of privacy has been eroded by constant technological surveillance. Maybe future generations will look back at them as precursors to a completely accepted cultural economy. Or, on the other hand, maybe selling a replica of your newborn is a deeply fucking weird thing to do and turning your children into products is a form of psychological abuse they may never fully recover from. It’s impossible to say, really.
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