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Scott McKay is a Toronto strategist, writer, creative director, patient manager, half-baked photographer and forcibly retired playwright.

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    "They had their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket."

          – George Orwell

     

     

     

     

     

    "Advertising – a judicious mix of flattery and threats."

          – Northrop Frye

     

     

     

     

     

    "Chess is as an elaborate a waste of time as has ever been devised outside an advertising agency."

          – Raymond Chandler

     

    « the result of this chicken-and-egg dilemma? | Main | can your voice be better? you sure as hell better try »
    Sunday
    Feb262012

    the red carpet model of social media hype

     

    It's funny how, a couple of years back, Facebook was going to be the way that we all enjoyed mass content together – things like, say, the Oscars or election nights. Think of it. Facebook was already all about hanging out with your friends online, gave you a newsfeed that let you share your thoughts with them pretty much immediately (as well as sharing links, pictures and so on), and then ultimately offered us Facebook Connect, which meant that you could be on specific sites relating to that mass event and still be sharing your witticisms and deeply felt emotions. 

    Mr. Zuckerberg and his pals made it so easy for us. We were already signing up by the millions, and they were so eager to be the engine of community, so giving, so encouraging.

    And we all chose 140 characters instead.

    In spite of their quest for universal love (and total market domination), social media platforms have become pretty specific. (Sample size of one, but anyway...) After a couple of years thinking that it was how I'd eventually communicate with everyone I know, for me Facebook instead became a place where I'd connected with a whole bunch of people from earlier in my life, it turned out merely for the sake of connecting. Some I stay in touch with, most not. The burden of going back years later and trying to slot them into manageable groups seems a little too much like, well, work. Unsurprisingly, I don't use Facebook much today. LinkedIn became my engine for work-related relationships and information, Myspace is a place I go only when a new band I'm trying to find out about posts tracks there, and Twitter became a place to broadcast my half-formed wit and enthusiasms.

    Yet Facebook is a mind-numbingly large company, followed closely by thousands of financial analysts, and will be, when public, one of the largest concentrations of capital on earth. Maybe. Well, for a while, anyway

    Today, after a night of watching so many smart and clever people tweet about the Oscars – a terrible TV show that celebrates movies shockingly few people have actually seen – my Twitter feed continues to remind me that Pinterest is all the rage. Everyone wants to be first, everyone wants to look smart, everyone wants to seem knowledgeable. Everyone has stats about how much traffic it drives, and how fast it's growing.

    We've been here before, several times. It will be years before people decide what they will actually use Pinterest for, if anything. 

    Sadly, at times like this, social media cognoscenti remind me of little more than the flacks hyping stars on the red carpet before the Oscars; gushing about whomever they're with, but always scanning the area for the newest hottest new thing. There's no reflection, only reflex.

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