Let Facebook Be Your Chair, Bridge, Universe
I don't watch every video clip that's sent my way. I have a young kid crawling around, a wife who's the most interesting person in any room she enters, even if that room is occupied by Angela Merkel or past and current members of Duran Duran, and interests that range from lounging on the couch to napping. Unless I truly applied myself, which would require the sort of cerebral rigor usually associated with Arizona State undergrads, it would be impossible for me to screen every bit of brand- or marketing-minded video that worms its way onto the Internet.
That said, I cannot imagine that there has been or will be a more inadvertently hilarious piece of narration in a clip this year than the one that serves as the statement of purpose in "The Things That Connect Us," Facebook's latest we-R-global-communitarians volley. The line, presented verbatim: "Chairs are for people - and that is why chairs are like Facebook."
The beautiful thing is that I'm not even taking that quote out of context. The video actually spends half of its 1:30 running time touting the virtues - in terms of form, function and, implicitly if not overtly, ass support - of common sitting chair and velour settee alike. It then goes on to note how doorbells, airplanes, basketball and dance floors similarly cement the common bonds of our humanity. See, they all bring people together in a way that they totally wouldn't be brought together in an alternate universe devoid of chairs, doorbells and his-and-her straightjackets. I am not making this up.
The clip commences with a would-be dramatic shot of a lone chair floating or suspended mid-air deep in the wilderness, clearly designed to pose the question, "If a chair falls in the forest, who will tag it on Facebook?" From there, we venture deep into the heart of chair country, home to old people reading on chairs, happy children playing on chairs and sexygals using chairs as sexydance props. People on chairs, the video instructs us, "can tell jokes, or make up stories, or just listen." It doesn't take an advanced degree in semantics to infer alternate activities that might take place on, over, around or in the immediate neighborhood of chairs, like a game of musical chairs.
Dramatic cut to: more images of people on chairs, accompanied by another narrative flourish: "Anyone can sit on a chair and, if the chair is large enough, they can sit down together." So wait - that's why nobody has "liked" my impassioned Facebook post about the Presidential debate? My chair was too small? Social media is tricky.
Then we see a comely young woman crying, probably because the upholsterer couldn't patch the tattered fabric of her favorite chair. We've all been there, friend.
The natural chair/Facebook link clearly established, "The Things That Connect Us" proceeds to rhapsodize about the emotional-connective properties of doorbells and planes, complete with footage of what appears to be a Bar-Mitzvah dance-off. "These are things people use to get together, so they can open up and connect," the narrator says, making me feel triple-bad about wearing construction-grade headphones on my last few flights. The clip ends with the obvious extension of the chairs-are-like-the-Internet-but-with-more-sitting analogy: clips from a massive rally on the Mall, a few quick thoughts on nation-building, a from-outer-space shot of Earth and musing about whether there are universes other than our own - and, if so, whether those universes are populated by civilizations that hold their chairmakers in similarly high esteem.
I have no idea what else to say about "The Things That Connect Us," other than to recommend that everyone bask in its supreme self-delusion. I'm totally okay with most everything about Facebook - which, in exchange for the privilege of letting me see if I'm thinner and less bald than my high-school classmates, is more than welcome to harvest my personal data, my likes/dislikes and my nonessential organs. But please, leave the inspiration and big important globalisticish thoughts to marketers who know how to frame them. You know, like the pharma companies.