Trading in insecurities

We reveal secrets when drunk that the billionaires of the future are ruthlessly exploiting, says Matthew Reeves

As a middle-class, UK-born white man, I live easy. My government paid for me to go to university for four years where I could have used the excellent facilities to learn almost anything, had I been proactive enough. Obviously, I preferred to spend my time pouring double vodka Red Bulls into myself.

Since I graduated, I've worked all across North America and the UK and I've realised that the main thing that unites our two great cultures is our fondness for things that make our easy lives even easier. The best-known legal cure for real life, the one that makes our seemingly unbearable lives seem bearable, is alcohol.

I'm not an addict by any stretch of the imagination, but towards the end of 2013, my enjoyment of the wonderfully moorish elixir tended towards the Paul Gascoigne end of the spectrum - and I have the scars to prove it. Actual scars. Arms, back of my shoulder, and, as of December, the inside lining of some of my more important organs, according to a medical professional. That's what drove me to Dry January.

This isn't my first rodeo; there was an attempt last year when I was UK-based, which was fraught with problems. While on a date with a deeply interesting, funny and intelligent young woman, I said I wasn't drinking. After the colour had returned to her face and a longish pause, she mustered: "Do you like curry?"

If I'd shown up with a model of her face made out of old twigs and wet toilet paper, it would have gone down better. My desire not to consume pint after pint of poison - delicious, hoppy and refreshing poison, but poison nonetheless - makes me the freak.

A freak who has taken a peek behind the curtain. When everyone is hammered and you're sober it's like drilling into people's souls and hitting their deepest fears. Everything pours out that they just don't have the confidence to reveal under normal circumstances, and because our lives are too easy, the dilemmas they are grappling with are trivial.

A new generation of future billionaires will make money out of these small battles, by knowing exactly how to exploit these dilemmas. Of course, it helps that we broadcast them from our smartphones, along with our age, gender and location. They'll be able to send messages straight into our palm; a far more effective method than traditional advertising.

Are you 21, male, and stopping at Pizzarama while travelling home from the local dive club? The next day, your feed will be full of pizza ads, plus a few "How pizza is ruining your chances of love" blog posts. Sound a bit NSA, a bit creepy? Absolutely. But lucractive, heck yes!

Obviously Facebook and Google are leading the charge, but you don't have to beat them to join them. Just try sobriety and you too could be a future billionaire, an insecurities trader.