Home Sculptor Business “Verified” Homes Parody the Absurdities of “Internet Vanity Culture”

“Verified” Homes Parody the Absurdities of “Internet Vanity Culture”

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A verified badge installed on a San Francisco house’s facade thanks to “Blue Check Homes.” (image by and courtesy of Danielle Baskin)

Are you tired of people walking by your home and not knowing exactly how important you are? Perhaps you are a person of great renown, but your plebeian neighbors are none the wiser because your building’s facade looks just like theirs. You wish there were some subtle, tasteful way to apprise the world of your distinguished status.

Look no further: “Blue Check Homes” will install a custom plaster crest featuring the white and blue checkmark motif universally associated with the great and the good. For a small fee of $2,999.99 and following a brief verification process that involves arbitrarily assessing your individual value based on your job title and social media presence, you can join the few illustrious figures considered checkmark-worthy in our endemically narcissistic society.

“Blue Check Homes” is, of course, a parody of Twitter’s ubiquitous “verified” badge, a symbol that lets people know an account of public interest is authentic. (Other social media platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, also use the blue check system.) The spoof business is the brainchild of artist Danielle Baskin, who creates works that poke fun at “Internet vanity culture” and “terrible capitalist ideas.”

“The blue checks used across most social media platforms create a fascinating dynamic,” Baskin told Hyperallergic. “Besides indicating that a brand is authentic, the blue check for public figures doesn’t really mean much. Maybe you have one because you were on a platform early or you know who works there, or you just randomly got in because you once appeared in a news article or own a trademark.”

“And yet, seeing the blue check shapes our perception of that person,” she added.

Though mocking the unique absurdity of a 21st-century digital phenomenon, the project was also inspired by the decorative crests found on Victorian homes to signal wealth and importance, which Baskin noticed adorning the exteriors of several buildings in her native San Francisco.

According to Twitter, an account must be “authentic, notable, and active” in order to be graced with the coveted blue checkmark. Similarly, there must be someone “authentic and notable actively living in the house” to qualify for one of Baskin’s crests.

Social media companies devised the verification system partly to avoid fake accounts and the impersonation of real public figures — a worthy cause. But the immediately recognizable blue badge also gives outsized credibility to those who may not be qualified to make certain claims, like an influencer peddling harmful diet pills to her loyal following, for instance.

“Since it’s not something everyone can get, it gives them an air of importance,” Baskin said. “The blue checkmarks — when given to individual people — are also an extreme threat to the spread of misinformation, since they also give that person’s posts a weight of authority, and they might not read things before they share them. Simultaneously, it can also be a solution to the spread of misinformation, when someone with authority weighs in.”

In fact, Baskin — who has nearly 20,000 followers on Twitter but no verified badge — had to add a disclaimer to the website after users started sharing it as a real company. (She also adds that she is actually a sculptor and “would totally make one for someone” at their request.)

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