Facebook recently passed MySpace as the most popular social networking site. Last year, at the urging of a close friend, I got a Facebook account, but I never used it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t care about it. I recently read of a guy who connected with tons of acquaintances from high school that way, and formed some pretty strong online friendships with them, stronger than he’d had back in school.
But, frankly, I’m not interested in shallow connections with tons of old acquaintances and strangers. I didn’t bother to go to my own high school reunion because I figure if there’s anyone I really care to see, I’d have looked them up sometime in the intervening decade. Somehow, life has gone on just fine. I’m perfectly content with my very small circle of close associates, and I have a hard time keeping up with them as it is. Any desire I have to interact with people beyond my immediate sphere of real world influence is more than adequately served by blogging.
And Facebook would just eat up more time that could be better spent having a real life, enjoying my family, serving my church, and working on non-electronic goals. There’s at least one Luddite left in this cyber world of ours!
Accordingly, I deleted my Facebook account last week. I hate clutter, and it was just collecting dust (I take Walden way too seriously). If anyone wants to contact me without posting a comment on a specific blog entry, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not saying Facebook is bad, but it’s probably an extraneous indulgence for most of us, another distraction that only gives the illusion of significance. At least it would be for me.
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It’s a cliché in advertising that “sex sells,” but that really isn’t the driving force in our society anymore. The motor that runs America now is narcissism: the power of our collective all-seeing eye is now firmly focused on nothing more substantial than our own navels.
When a pioneering cosmetics campaign told us, “Because you’re worth it,” we replied with a resounding, “Darn straight!” The majority of advertising in the last decade hasn’t enticed us to buy something because it will make attractive people want us, but because we deserve to indulge, relax, and spoil ourselves. Watch some commercials tonight with this in mind, and you may be surprised.
Our culture, of course, has now taken the rampant hedonism of the last two generations to the next logical level: carnal solipsism. Lower case pronouns notwithstanding, the brand names iPod, iMac, and iPhone leave no doubt as to what primitive urge they’re pandering to, that of
total self-obsession. Nor is it a coincidence that the dominant online media forces of our Zeitgeist are called MySpace and YouTube.
In a world where we’re being encouraged to use our incredible entertainment and communication technology as little more than a flattering funhouse mirror, someone needing to sell, say, an orthodontic device, would do well to advertise it not as a means of becoming more phyically appealing to others, but as a luxury that people have earned the right to splurge on. Don’t picture it next to a bikini model, but show someone resting in a bubble bath and flashing a content (and perfectly even) smile, or sneaking a slice of chocolate cake from the fridge past their newly-improved teeth.
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