Living off the fat of the land

As Tyler Cowen puts it, there really are markets in everything.

She’s the fattest person in the world to have a baby and gets paid by her online fans to eat. Some even pay for food to be delivered to her door.

Mother-of-two from Ohio in the US, Donna Simpson, 44, has carved out a niche online where men who like large women can watch her eat – at a price.

Putting aside the health arguments involved in incentivizing someone to eat unhealthily, which strike me as reminiscent of what is happening with Man vs. Food, this seems to me to be just one example, if a highly caloric one, of how he internet contributes to economic growth.
I can’t imagine that prior to the world being as plugged in as it is now, those with an attraction to adipose found it very easy to satisfy their needs. Instead, it was more than likely a demand that for the most part went unfulfilled. Now, the world is one fatty oyster for voyeurs of all stripes.
The internet links these “niche” consumers with the appropriate producers. The anonymity of it all also helps. Any stigma that may be associated with what may be considered deviant demand is lessened if not eliminated by anonymity. The problem, of course, is that the efficiency gains of this kind are not limited to the harmless. Other “niche” demands can be also met and protected through the use of the same technological infrastructure: terrorism and even more harmful sexual deviance are also facilitated, which begs the question of whether our flat world has allowed for increases of such deviance.
It is certain that people that mean harm don’t need the internet to get things done, but if we are going to laud the system for its ability to facilitate political change, we should also look deeply into how some change it facilitates may not be something that most of us want.

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