Posts tagged ‘facebook’
Deborah Rogers, professor of English at the University of Maine, shares some provocative thoughts about Facebook in “I poke dead people: The paradox of Facebook” on The Times (i.e., of London) Higher Education website. One of the things she wonders about is the likelihood that the arrival of droves of overweight bleached blondes in mom jeans and dorky forty-something white guys will devalue the digital real estate. When they start showing up on Facebook, the cool kids say “there goes the neighborhood,” and look for a new place to hang. Even if that doesn’t happen, Rogers is fairly confident that the curious form of interaction on social networks will make us somehow less human. She sees evidence of this in how Facebook deals with, among other things, death. Below are a few choice quotations to whet your appetite:
Even as it facilitates our ability to connect, the collective social-networking culture changes our way of thinking about everything from friendship to death. And not in a good way. As a technological medium that fetishises individualism, Facebook invites disaster.
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Facebook redefines what it means to connect to each other and provides a huge audience for self-absorption. Nothing is insignificant. Everyone wants to know everything about us, all the time. In the minutiae that mark the triteness of an inherently boring everyday life, we may recognise our own situation. Facebook’s fixation on individualism makes ordinary people feel important enough to warrant such attention – or inconsequential enough to need to document every aspect of their existence. The trope for this exhibitionism may be outing ourselves – and everyone we know.
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…the medium fails to allay our sense of despair and loneliness. For example, several months ago, Paul Zolezzi, an aspiring actor and model, hanged himself on the monkey bars in a Brooklyn playground. He had posted his suicide note on Facebook, where he said that he was “born in San Francisco, became a shooting star over everywhere, and ended his life in Brooklyn … And couldn’t have asked for more.” On Facebook, even suicide notes sound flippant. In fact, apparently assuming Zolezzi was joking, a friend commented on his Facebook page: “Are you dying? Or just staying in Brooklyn?”
You may have seen it reported yesterday that the pallid, painfully thin man-boys developing Facebook apps in their mildewed geek caves may very well make more money than Facebook itself in 2009. $500 million is a figure that has been bandied about. That this is even possible is yet another testament to the fact that Mark Zuckerberg cannot manage his way out of a wet paper bag. But let us not expend our energies kicking Mr. Zuckerberg in the stomach. Plenty of time for that later. Instead, let’s take a look at exactly what sort of Facebook apps we’re talking about.
TechCrunch has posted a story and lovely video that explains all. Examine them and then tear at your flesh with your bare hands in anguish that you did not come up with the ideas first.
Last week someone sent me the story of Passover as explained by Facebook. It was intended to be amusing, and I suppose it succeeded in a limited way. There are status updates from Elijah on his tipsiness, a list of “25 things you don’t know about me” by God, etc. I gave it a quick glance and then didn’t think much more about it. Then today I read in the Telegraph of London that Trinity Church, the oldest Church in New York (which also occupies the oldest building in New York) has used Twitter to tell the story of the Passion 140 characters at a time. This was not an attempt at comedy. The church was trying to connect with young people by using new technology to tell an ancient story that is one of the cornerstones of Judeo-Christian civilization.
My immediate thought upon reading this was that absurdist expression is no longer possible. Satire and gospel have become indistinguishable. How can we reduce the central mythology of western civilizaton to a handful of Tweets? How can we not do it if we want the mythology to remain relevant to people whose attention spans are measured in fractions of a second? What’s more, if the most sacred texts of a civilization cannot resist being rendered by technology not to paragraphs or sentences but to mere utterances, what chance does the lowly advertising business have to cling to any form of articulate communication in the coming years?
In a documentary made to promote Monty Python’s Life of Brian, John Cleese ridiculed American Terry Gilliam’s limited vocabulary. Cleese claimed there were only two possible responses from Gilliam regardless of the stimulus to which he was exposed: “Hey man, I really like that” or “hey man, that really pisses me off.” Is this where our use of language is headed? Does it create a business opportunity to start “the next thing” after Twitter–something that reduces all human expression to either “like it” or “pisses me off”? Are indecipherable grunts and dumb shows the next (or last) stops on this ever-narrowing road?
I am worried, not as an advertising professional but as a human being. Advertisers can and will concoct a new semiotic system to sell floor wax without verbs. What I’m less confident of is the next generation’s ability to squeeze Ulysses from an eyedropper.
Techdirt reports that people who access sites like Facebook and YouTube at work are actually more productive than their co-workers who don’t. This has something to do with our need for occasional mental breaks or some such.
This being the case, I invite you to send your personal productivity through the roof by watching this very strange video of Andy Kaufman appearing on the David Letterman show on June 24th 1980. Had Kaufman lived, his videos could have single-handedly powered the global economy out of this recession without breaking a sweat. We shall not see his like again.
Bernie Hogan has come up with a nifty little application that will create network matrices of your friends on Facebook. Kind of a nice way to visualize the circles, rhombuses and trapezoids in which you move.
Once you’ve created your matrices, the next logical step is to figure out why you don’t have more friends. Fortunately, there’s an article in the Economist that will answer the question and more or less absolve you from responsibility. (It’s your brain’s fault.)
Actually, this is all pretty good stuff for marketers to know in an age where more and more we will be counting on consumers to spread the word about our brands.