What the Facebook Is Going on Here?

How Are We Supposed to Advertise to the Social-Media Addicted?

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Peter Madden Peter Madden
So I'm on Facebook -- and it's a freak show. Plus, it's getting in the way of advertising, which of course, is a crime in most states outside of Hawaii.

I joined a couple of months ago, mainly due to my younger (therefore hipper) sister Kate. She was baffled that I -- as a communicator, branding-dude-about-town, Small Agency Diarist, etc. -- hadn't joined the fray. Thus I joined.

Then came the friends. The minority were people I talk with every week. The vast majority were those I haven't seen since we were figuring out a) whose parents could drive us to the mall (grade school); b) whose parents were away so we could throw a party (high school) or c) how to announce to your parents you haven't found a job yet and have to move back home (post-college).

At first, this was pretty cool. Then over the course of time, it just got weird. The older the acquaintance, the weirder.

It's just that the way your brain works, you compartmentalize old friends and acquaintances. They stay locked in time and space -- the haircut, the marital/family status, the immaturity level, the attitude. The maniac who played guitar that everyone was scared to death of and one time "called me out" after school should forever be that guy.

He shouldn't be a happy family guy who sells insurance, right? Better yet, he definitely shouldn't be wondering why I haven't responded to what he's written on my wall.

Most importantly, all of these tiny interactions are sucking brains dry and getting in the way of advertisers like us who need to hypnotize/manipulate/cajole these brains into thinking about the products we're selling!

When did everyone get so freaking needy, happy and always perpetually doing something cool? Why are we now in each other's lives in the most superficial of ways? It's a little bit too much work for me.

Plus, it's completely devoid of what life should be about -- enjoying what is in the present. But this has been a problem since the advent of the camcorder. Instead of watching your child take his/her first steps, you run into the other room, realize the batteries are low, get new ones, load it up, and train the lens on your child whom you just missed taking his/her first steps and is now drooling on a stuffed frog.

Now instead of actually enjoying an activity – snowboarding, concert, food, golfing -- you must pause to update your status and let everyone know that you're about to jam down the mountain, watch Stewart Copeland jam, jam on a Philly cheesteak, or jam out after a birdie on the 18th at Pebble Beach!

Friends have become the new products. So put the ad-laden magazine down and check out what I'm doing now!

I assume these same people, when not getting on Facebook to tell friends who haven't seen them in 25 years that they're about to get on a plane to Vegas, are texting other people as well. If they are in such a dizzying mess of communication, how the hell are we advertisers supposed to make them look up for a second and get their attention? Oh that's right, maybe create a fan page for Lysol. Blah.

Finally, the way people seem to collect the aforementioned friends. Tell me you don't look at how many friends you have and compare that to the number of friends other people have! You don't? Liar! I even know of one story where a guy bragged to my director of PR when he ran into her on the street that he had almost 600 friends. It's like Facebook is an opportunity to collect souls, as if your home base is Mordor (note: I have no idea if that makes sense but sounds pretty funny).

Are you feelin' me or is 2009 the year of Madden the Cynic? (Damn, I'm breaking resolutions already).

PS: Please friend me. I'm up to 200 people and going strong! No criteria needed. We're just clicks away from being BFFs! At the very least, it's worth it to check out my overly tanned, smiling face at sunset with a confused baby Gavin, probably wondering what happened to his wub-a-nub.

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