FUCK YOU Facebook (sorry mom, but I think you’ll agree with me here). The above video is an ad for a new product called Facebook Home. It basically takes over your smartphone so that as soon as you turn it on the first thing you see is what your friends are doing. Yay, now you can see pictures quicker of people you haven’t seen in person in over eight years. Watch this if you really want to know how it works.
But this is not a review of Facebook Home. I don’t care if it’s the best thing since sliced gluten-free bread. It’s about this marketing campaign by Facebook that paints them as a saviour to all your boring life moments — you know, like when you’re eating dinner that your parents slaved over and listening to an aunt that you probably haven’t said hi to since you were 8.
Over 100 million Americans own a smartphone. Over a hundred million people — and growing — whose minds are distracted not by what’s in front of them (i.e., reality) but by things that are happening elsewhere.
What does it mean for society when you lose the patience and desire to simply exist where you are? To engage meaningfully with people who are actually in your presence? When you can’t look someone in the eye for more than a couple seconds before they dart to a piece of plastic sitting on the table?
This is one of the things I love about travel and, for that matter, about living in the Kootenays in British Columbia, where there are big patches of land without cell reception. You meet people; you talk to people; you appreciate where you are; you live in the moment.
I’ve always defended social media applications like Twitter and Facebook, saying they’re just tools, neither inherently good or bad; that it’s up to each individual to decide how they will use it. I still believe that. But when a powerful company like this starts advertising on the premise that you can just ignore people and stare at your phone, that’s a whole other level of doucheyness. It’s plain socially irresponsible. I can imagine them sitting around a table at the boardroom laughing at the idea of this commercial, claiming how it will appeal to young teens. And it probably will.