I've been thinking a great deal about this brave new world, this moment in history where our lives are connected by a series of commercial interruptions. We are data points, quippy questions, one hundred and forty characters of insight. We are cropped and contrasted to perfection, always living on the right side of happy. We are becoming the best versions of us, memorializers of the joy of life. And in these euphoric moments of making ourselves known, of broadcasting our brand to the world, the marketers are co-opting it all. "Let them be connected, let them be joyful, and in those moments of happy feelings, we'll squeeze in a little product," they say.
It's pure genius, really.
On my Facebook feed, a friend shares Deidra Riggs' most recent piece about Philip Seymour Hoffman. She writes, "[p]eople weren’t meant to be famous,” which was to say that people weren't made to be bought and sold in the marketplace. It would be a dire warning to the siren song of instant celebrity, to the participants in this reality show called social media. It would be a dire warning, that is, if we ever clicked the link. Below the Facebook snippet, though, is an enticement. It is an app advertisement for Age of War, which promises to be the most addictive game of the year. I consider the bait and switch, how the thieving of a good word for profit constitutes the least grand of all larcenies.
I'm not naive to the ways of business. Every good enterprise needs to turn a buck; I get it. Back in the day, though, we sold wheat, cotton, clean water, pork bellies. We knitted hats and scarves, grew tomatoes for the market. In this brave new world, we have become the commodities; yes? Our lives have become the vehicles for sale. Our desire for connection, to be known, doesn't it have unintended consequences?
See my giant pork belly. It is for sale, just like everything else.