Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Facebook:The Past Was Dead, The Future Was Unimaginable

"Isn't this beautiful?" Zuckerberg asked the crowd.

Mark Zuckerberg was 23 and a college dropout. He was the boy wonder that "put fear" into the mighty Google, and made Microsoft fall head over heels in love. He had every reason to be nervous, but he had grown accustomed to the limelight and he cherished every moment of it. Mark had just finished describing his strategy to turn users of Facebook into Internet billboards. He has never been more proud.

Manhattan is accustomed to seeing stars, but Mark was not just any star. Hundreds of executives and journalists had come to the Mecca of advertising, not only to see him, but to witness what they've been told would be the future. Executives came to see him tell them that their brands was safe in his hands.

A generation of children have grown up online and they knew nothing of privacy, intimacy, and quiet afternoons in a park with their thoughts and a book. For them life means sharing every thought with everyone, without inhibition.

They wear GUnit T-shirts and carry Louis Vuitton bags as if they were badges of honor. They talk constantly about the brands they own, and the brands they aspire to own in the near future. Some even tattoo their favorite brands on their bodies. What Mark had done was tapped into Facebookers' needs for constant reassurance, validation, and proof that they're loved. Even if the love is from marketers trying to sell to them. It is a world where fakes friends are better than none.

Mark belongs to this brand obsessed generation. He wear Adidas flip flops as if they were attached to his feet. The Adidas brand has branched into an extension of himself. He understands Facebookers need to belong.

Social networkers as a group don't mind giving every bit of themselves, as long as they are rewarded for it. Being "social" and telling the world about your deepest desires are rewarded by ads made "just for you" asking you to desire more, and share even more of yourself.

Facebookers who willingly sign up to broadcast their deepest thoughts have read about the pitfalls of letting corporations and governments too deeply into lives. They have read and written reports on George Orwell's book '1984." But for them 1984 is a fantasy written by an old Englishman before the Internet "was created" by Google.

Executives from Blockbuster, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Toyota could not believe their luck. They have wanted to capitalize on this social networking trend that had become a way of life for so many. A whole generation of young, educated users, who seemed willing to give up their souls for just $24 each. Mark had just just told them that Facebookers were willing to give up their souls, or let the thought police give them a gentle push toward what they should desire next for just a hug and affirmation. He would keep the 24 dollars.

Alas! On November 6, the past was dead, the future was unimaginable.

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