Easy Money At What Cost? The darker side of MFC success

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In the three years since I’ve started on MFC, things have changed. In many ways I’ve seen changes for the better – more creativity, more success, more models and more members – but in other ways I’ve seen how more does not necessarily mean better. Yesterday a close friend of mine took to twitter to speak about an issue that, to her, had been a long time coming but to many of her viewers may have come as a surprise – MFC was eating her alive. She needed to step away and grapple with the fact that she wasn’t quite sure who she was anymore.

I’ve felt that this was something of a situation long before this friend had come to these conclusions, but having not reached the same level of success as top 100, top 50, certainly not top 20 or top 10 models, I’ve stayed relatively quiet about these ideas. I feel that in light of what she wrote last night, and while simultaneously approaching my third anniversary on MFC in about a month’s time, I’m in a better place to touch on these things in hopes of bringing awareness to what success on MFC can do in a negative sense.

There are two stark differences I’ve seen on MFC between 2013 and now, the first of which is time. Up until about November of 2014, hours dedicated to making top ranks were high but possibly not quite as downright absurd as they are now. There was a shift around that time that changed the game of the higher ranks from one of creativity to one that involved an extreme time element: marathon shows hit 12 hours, 15 hours, 24 hours and beyond. If a “full time” job is considered 40 hours a week, what do you call a job where 80+ hours a week is normal? 10 hours a day, every day, for 30 days straight? It used to be more common for girls to go for rank once and then take a break – now I see the same names in the top 10 month after month after month. That’s non stop MFC, non stop all day long, all week long, for months on end.

I’d be hard pressed to call that a job. In my eyes, that’s an obsession. With that degree of time input into MFC, camming transcends a job and becomes life.

The time component alone is still not enough, though. Girls are still incredibly creative. Girls are still creating content, making and sending prizes, connecting with members off screen, updating social media. The degree of energy required to compete is becoming dizzying. In the last year, a second sort of “trend” has come through – something I want to call the popularization of dependency. In a positive way, I’ve seen models begin to open up emotionally to members – to connect as a form of healing for themselves and for the people who watch them, to build strong, genuine friendships on the site and to really be wholly themselves, 100% opened up for the world to see – naked not just physically but emotionally to a huge degree. In a negative way, I see members come to expect that need. A component of the cam world is capitalizing on a very human need to be needed, and the girls that need MFC the most (or at least seem like they need MFC the most) are often better able to exploit that (whether consciously or unconsciously).

Perhaps surprisingly the faked need isn’t what concerns me the most. Trickery has always existed on MFC and always will, and in our day and age anyone would be hard pressed to truly believe a repeatedly top ranking model would be finding it difficult to feed her pets month after month of success.

It’s the real need that scares me. Contributing the insane amount of time that a model needs to contribute to MFC in order to hit those top ranks is manic – it becomes increasingly difficult to relate to people off screen, to even find time to see people off screen, to have time to yourself and, eventually, to even maintain a concept of self away from broadcasting your most profitable aspects to hundreds of viewers. Eventually, MFC is all some models have. That need that is so attractive to members can simultaneously be so, so damaging to the model profiting off of it.

The second obvious difference, perhaps more blatant than the first, is money. MFC is a modern day gold mine – each and every month girls are literally striking it rich on the site, with top models making double, even triple what an entry level business job would make in year in the course of just one month. When I was working as a legal assistant I was making $30,000 a year after tax. I’ve heard that some months, the top ranking model makes over $150,000. Seeing 10,000 token tips in 2013 was surprising – the numbers have climbed. Many, many models have received single tips of over 100,000 tokens. That’s $5,000 US in the blink of an eye. It used to take me two months to make that sitting in a desk. Now girls are seeing all of that and then some from their own homes.

I noticed something when I first started camming that shocked me in a bad way. My first few weeks were exhilarating. Making $100 from my bedroom was such a thrill – receiving that first paycheck over over $1000 was insane. I couldn’t believe that I could have been so lucky. I felt so grateful and so utterly shocked whenever anyone would tip me tips over 500 tokens – that’s $25 in one second! I’d compare my nights to the billable hours of the lawyers I worked for, laughing at the fact that I was making, hour by hour, more than the rich old white dude that bossed me around who had been practicing law for over thirty years.

Eventually, though, the emotion subsided. As larger tips became more frequent and my average daily earning increased, I found it difficult to feel that same feeling inside that I had when I first started. Earning large sums of money is like a drug, and like any drug, the dose needs to increase for the high to keep it’s sparkle. Like any drug, the warmth subsides. It’s a model’s job to show gratitude on the outside, and I’m not for a moment suggesting that every tear shed for a huge tip is inauthentic, because the shock is still very real and the immediate aftermath is still very, very emotional.

What I’m suggesting is that there comes a point where the numbers begin to blur. The dollar begins to lose value. Gratitude can only go so far. When you close your browser and sit in silence, perhaps the first silence in hours and hours, and you’re disconnected from MFC completely just for that one moment, there’s a numbness  – a numbness that can’t be expressed for fear of appearing jaded and greedy, perhaps a numbness that won’t even be accepted to one’s self. Even if you’re number 1 you know they’re right at your heels. If you’re number 2 there’s someone out there better than you. As my friend put it so eloquently, you’re ranked on MFC from the moment you make your first token whether you like it or not. Whether you focus on that ranking, no matter what, it boils down to comparison.

There’s always more. This drive will either hollow you out and you will fuel yourself entirely on greed or it will make frail your foundations, make you question yourself, make you doubt everything.

It occurs to me on a daily basis that my life will likely never be this lucrative ever again. Thankfully, on a self-serving level, I’m also studying to enter a career that I have a passion for outside of MFC. We’ve always said that it’s wrong for people to expect sex workers to want to aspire to do something other than sex work, and I agree with that – but how do you cope with knowing that this lifestyle is unsustainable in a big way? Some of the top models are very young: 18, 19, 20 years of age making tens of thousands of dollars a month. It’s not to say that webcamming isn’t possible long term, but it is very obvious that webcamming to this degree is absolutely not.

What we have here is a recipe for burnout. We have a recipe for an incredibly strenuous and potentially unhealthy life, both physically and mentally, that also comes with a huge payout – we are aware of the risks and maybe even endure them, but with our eyes on the prize it never seems that bad. I know that the point I’ve illustrated above does not describe every model and I certainly don’t aim to – we’re a diverse bunch of real humans and sweeping generalizations can never be accurate. What I’m suggesting is that there is at least a shred of truth, to varying degrees, of the above for all of us, and I suspect higher degrees for those consistently pushing for the top.