There is such an outrage about what Social Media is doing to our lives and our state of wellbeing that people like Mark Zuckerberg or Sundar Pichai (Google’s CEO) have had to drag their millions-of-dollars-padded asses through US Congress to explain how their platforms are susceptible to misuse.
They have had to explain endlessly how they do things, how and why they do or don’t do this or that. Given walkthroughs of this and that process, all to a mesmerized group of politicians that want to please their boss, entice these potential political contributors, appear tough in the defense of the electorate and, most of all, seem smart on subjects as alien to them as the mechanics of cell reproduction.
I am not going to lie, it’s been a show. And a rather good show at that. From congressmen asking the question that’s just been answered in their quest to seize their turn to speak, so that the cameras pick the stern intonation, only to be ridiculed by answers the likes of “Senator, we run ads” or “Congressman, that’s not a product we make”.
It’s all a show
To the point that the new “cool” is to hate Social Media. To be indignant about their business practices. All the while still logging a couple of hours a day to Facebook, using Google for EVERY internet search and liking whatever picture shows up on the Instagram feed.
Now, here is the funny part. All these platforms LOVE advertisers. These are the ones that give them money. And it’s just this form of economic transaction the one that defines a customer and a supplier. It’s also hardly a secret that advertisers LOVE these platforms. They provide them with direct and targeted access to all their potential customers. And they do it accurately (sort of), repeatedly (that’s for sure), targeted (more or less), and timely. What’s not to like?
Well, the price. They are not cheap. They are for sure cheaper than a billboard or a Superbowl ad, but finding the 25 year old male/female that lives within 8 blocks from the gym has a certain cost. And they do this well and with hardly any alternative. So whatever they charge must be the right price. And if it’s not, they would not sell, and their price would drop and… you know how economy works…
When it’s free, YOU are the product
So, what are the users of these platforms then? All these sources of outrage and indignation? What are we? Well, we are the product. You are the product. You are the target of these advertising revenue the platform gets for you to look at it.
Think of it as a the supermarket. The client goes, picks up a few groceries, cashes out, and leaves. How much do you think the store cares about the outrage of the pack of beans, the bottle of ketchup or the canola oil? Let me tell you, not a whole lot. Sure, the store is going to display the product in good light, in shelves at the right height, the chicken is going to be cool, the veggies will look fresh and the ice-cream will be chilled.
That’s you. That’s what you are to Google. Just another product. The outrage, the indignation, the outcry, the investigation, the boycott is hardly anything more than instructions on how to keep the product fresh, and sell it before expiry date.
The only difference here is that the product, you, has a choice. You may choose not to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Yelp, Snapshat, Google or LinkedIn. None of these platforms owe you a single thing. Do you know why? Because you are not paying them.
You are entitled to… nothing
Any of these may choose to erase your account, or block your contacts, or remove friends, or tag your content as hateful. You are on their servers, using the space they kindly lend (not give, lend!) you. Like it? Great. Don’t like it? There’s the door.
You may object, complain, yell or write an angry post but the reality is that Mark Zuckerberg, and all the other creators of these ad platforms, owe you not a thing. You, are entitled to nothing. And you will not be until you PAY for the service. They will try to accommodate you, sure, but only insofar as they need to keep you coming back.
News are not true? Content is offensive? Tough luck. You still have the choice of not being there. And if you find no other way to stay in touch with some people other than a social media platform, perhaps it’s not worth for you to stay in touch with them? If you can’t live without your 2,500 contacts, 90% of which you have never exchanged a word with, then put up or shut up. Just spare me of your fake outrage while you post another sexy pic in a bikini in front of the Bahamas poster.
It’s so boring, I am coming to the conclusion that your outrage is nothing more than another feeble call for attention, and a desperate attempt at being relevant.
The other day I entered a restaurant and shouted about how unfair it was that the X-Factor was on a break. Nobody cared. There.