I have to confess – part of me was pretty happy that Facebook got pummeled a few weeks ago in the press (and on Wall Street).
Oh snap…I said it.
Don’t get me wrong, the internet is an AMAZING thing. Yes, companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and the like have completely changed and continue to change the way we obtain and share information. Yes, they have impacted how we interact as humans, and well, how we interact with machines. Yes, they have affected how we live our lives…
And to be fair, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that technology in all its forms hasn’t to a significant degree changed my life for the better, providing more information and opportunity than ever before. But the irony to me is, the young entrepreneurs who rule the technosphere—the rebel upstarts who were going to change the world for the better—have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. A world in which openness has created conflict, efficiency has created waste, and where connectivity has turned….creepy.
Ultimately these companies have evolved to support their own vision of the world. While the utility of technology may be a benefit (sometimes not), make no mistake—these companies are in it for themselves. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they were running legitimate companies – meaning ones with business plans that include profit. Pretty easy to run a business that doesn’t make money (I love you Apple). The average Facebook user is on the site about 15.5 hours per month (I found that info rather quickly…thank you, Google.) That’s just Facebook, folks. Let’s add Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, spam jokes on the email, a few games of Angry Birds, watching two dudes on You Tube making bacon lasagna, searching Groupon for 50% off what I don’t need….whaddya think….am I moving north of 30-40 hours for the month, easy?
And that’s not counting the technology I utilize for actual work. Yes, Mr. Romney and President Obama….the American workforce, who you will argue works more hours than anywhere else in the world, and whom you will claim is more productive than any other worker in the world, spends a full quarter of the work month building digital farms and sports bars (and paying real money for computer-animated bar signs)!
Speaking of money, don’t think for one second that these seemingly “free” services are actually gratis. They have just found – or are currently looking for – ways for you to use, and become dependent upon, their own devices…not a whole lot different from the drug dealer who gives away “the first taste” for free. (Yup…I just compared Facebook to crack – and I can’t imagine I’m the first one to do it.) If you believe that finding revenue isn’t part of the equation, and that they’ve created these services simply for your enjoyment, well – I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you (wink wink). Remember, “the greatest trick the devil ever played was making us think he didn’t exist.”
I know what you’re thinking right about now: Gregg is writing this blog as a warning for us not to use Facebook during our work day! Far from it, actually. I’m just having a nice old-fashioned rant, the kind you might see on a Facebook status update. But while we estimate that the CBX staff spends up to 20% of its workday on non-work-related internet based things, the truth is, I think that these outlets do ultimately make our staff more attuned to our business, which as a branding agency is to provide a lens to clients in reflecting pop culture. Creativity is derived from input, so there is value in spending some time exploring and engaging. Hey, look, I just spent my break writing this blog. So feel free to spend a few minutes browsing the family photos of that old girlfriend or boyfriend whom you haven’t seen in 15 years (if you liked them that much, wouldn’t you still be in touch?). Just remember when you’re surfing Facebook: Mr. Zuckerberg is watching you, and figuring out how to add to his billions.