Columbus, Ohio – February 1995. Another consultant and I were touring the offices of the now defunct CompuServe, an early forerunner of AOL and other online communities. As we sat in cubicles and peered over the shoulders of staff giving us demos of the online capabilities, someone observed that members could spend their whole lives online — to which an astute editor retorted, “or their non-lives.”
There’s a great Op-Ed in The Times today titled, “Love People, Not Pleasure.”
Arthur C. Brooks writes, “Today, each of us can build a personal little fan base, thanks to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like. We can broadcast the details of our lives to friends and strangers in an astonishingly efficient way. That’s good for staying in touch with friends, but it also puts a minor form of fame-seeking within each person’s reach. And several studies show that it can make us unhappy.”
“It makes sense. What do you post to Facebook? Pictures of yourself yelling at your kids, or having a hard time at work? No, you post smiling photos of a hiking trip with friends. You build a fake life — or at least an incomplete one — and share it. Furthermore, you consume almost exclusively the fake lives of your social media “friends.” Unless you are extraordinarily self-aware, how could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”
The article is an adept and compelling view of the current world we live in, one which is rife with images of luxury and success, all broadcast and transmitted over a million channels of marketing. From aspirations of fame (reality television) to social media (Facebook), to the pursuit of money or any other dalliances that we can all be prone to chase, Brooks shares a complete and well-reasoned argument for a more spiritual life.
In his words, “It is the worldly snake oil peddled by the culture makers from Hollywood to Madison Avenue. But you know in your heart that it is morally disordered and a likely road to misery.”
Thankfully — and I’d like to think there is a reason for this, Iridium doesn’t work in consumer marketing or advertising. We’re strictly corporate, focused on business services and institutional finance. This Op-Ed by Arthur Brooks reminds me of why we would be so poorly suited to that branding culture.
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A few weeks ago, I was negligent in sharing another gem by David Carr, an article on just how truly effective — or ineffective — those ubiquitous enewsletters are. We all rely on them and at IridiumGroup, we can confirm that all client organizations are pursuing original content as an important marketing technique to differentiate themselves and position as a leader in their respective categories of business. It’s an interesting article that champions a technology (and medium) that I was surprised to learn is now 40 years old.