Media X: Social Disease

I know why you're all so giddy. Someone gave you tickets to the Facebook GenerationNext Wrap Party on Thursday night.

Only a parade of college students making beer money by dressing up in silly icon costumes and parading down a New York City street rivals that for excitement, I think.

But won't it be strange seeing all your online BFFs in the disgusting flesh? Don't you prefer getting up close and personal without ever actually being up close and personal?

Social media memes about community and human expression are such an Orwellian crock. In the history of the world, nothing has divided people more than the Internet. And yet here you are, chasing consumers all over social networks like busy little digi-beavers oblivious to the giant redwood you just chewed through that's about to come crashing down and turn you into beaver borscht.

Giving everybody a voice doesn't make anybody worth listening to, my puckish little cyber-slaves. And that's why I know which half of your online advertising is wasted --both halves. We're underwhelmed by oversharing, besieged by impersonal personal pleas and hounded by false Friends. Now that I know what people I know do every second of every day, I don't want to know them.



Moreover, how is a blogger I have never met writing about one of my columns and talking about what "Jack thinks" any less impersonal than getting a letter addressed to "Dear Occupant?" And why is ceding complete control of your communications to nerds, retirees and trolls a good idea? By what alchemy does a Web browser turn every user into David Ogilvy?

We need to log off and put down the Kool-Aid.

If you think these networks will ever evolve to deliver on their hype, I refer you to the Gauls who sacked Rome in 390 BC. It took over 300 years to set that one right when Caesar, who today would write a snarky political blog and go strapped to town hall meetings, took his army to France and deballed the country.

But then 410 AD rolled around, and Alaric the Visigoth, who today would be a digital marketing executive posting insincere C-tweets and checking obsessively, sacked Rome again. Apparently, even Alaric didn't finish the job because there was another sack in 455, by the Vandals this time (not the punk rock group). Wait, there's more: a particularly vicious sack in 1527 (France again), which began with Imperial troops rampaging through the streets of the Eternal City and ended with the pope in prison, the city in ruins and the population downsized with extreme prejudice to 10,000 raped and pillaged zombies.

And that's what social media has made the Internet and its virtual citizens -- serial sack victims beaten so senseless they hallucinate an online utopia where none exists.

Some savvy marketer is going to figure this out and create a campaign that disdains the idea that social networks unite us. Instead, it will celebrate the fact that by using them, we don't ever have to come face to face with another human being.

I'd do it myself, but I need to make a few tweets and see if I can't score an invite to that Facebook party.

2 comments about "Media X: Social Disease".
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  1. C.t. Trivella from NAS Recruitment Communications, September 23, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.

    Jack--Are you playing devil's advocate or are you genuinely serious in what you write? I'm not sure how to take this. You make it sound like Dostoyevsky was right; we are all sheep. It's very human to want to belong and to be a part of something. If social networks / media provide that venue, so what. Those who want to engage in it will and those who find disdain in it won't. It's really that simple.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 23, 2009 at 5:21 p.m.

    Very funny and true. Yes, people are sheep. (See religion.)

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