Facebook: Whip Me, Beat Me, Make Me Write Bad Checks! Isn’t that what happens when we have zero ability (read: will-power, desire, incentive) to live within our means, and 200% opportunity to buy, buy, buy?
It appears that “liking” something on Facebook is no longer enough; Facebook has created and is testing a “Want” button that retailers can add to posts about their products. Facebook users can now “Want” items, “Collect” them, and “Buy” them…all without leaving Facebook.
I understand Facebook wanting to keep users onsite. I understand retailers being ecstatic about the datamining possibilities – now limitless, driven by public desires! I understand “Keeping Up With The Joneses” and the acquisitive nature of our wealthy, first-world society. I understand the social media allure of making your “wants” known, and the perceived power of elevating something from “like” to “want.”
Let’s Face(book) it: Perception Is Reality
But is it just me, or does anyone else find it creepy that Facebook has the potential to become the world’s largest gift registry? Doesn’t it turn us into an even more spoiled bunch of grab-happy spenders: “I want it and I want it NOWWWW!” Talk about instant gratification! You can “Want” it, “Collect” it, and “Buy” it…without leaving your virtual reality Facebook environment.
Are You Willing To Give Advertisers That Much Power Over You?
Think it’s a joke? I managed websites for a VW dealership in NH. I live in Texas. I bought my VW from a VW dealer in San Antonio. Yet I’m a target of online marketing – continuously…intrusively – by Miller VW in Lebanon, NH. Kudos to VW. It’s their innate understanding of the online shopper and blah, blah, blah. I say that to say this: CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW YOU’LL BE MARKETED TO WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR “WANTS” PUBLICLY KNOWN?
I don’t know. After spending 3 months in Honduras in 1993, I came back to the U.S. and while waiting at the airport for my husband to rent a car, I did a little people-watching. By the time my husband made it back to me and our luggage (“my baggage” would be more accurate), I was sick to my stomach and nearly in tears. I’d spent 3 months immersed in a culture that struggled to survive, embraced by people who literally offered to kill their last chicken to feed me, who would have – without question – given me the shirt off of their backs. And here I was staring at what amounted to ANNUAL INCOME for someone in Honduras, in a pair of Nike sneakers on an innocent kid trucking his way through DFW, head plugged into a Walkman. Our disconnect with regard to relative wealth and privilege was astonishing.
Fast-Forward A Score Of Years And The Disconnect Is Back…I Want What I WANT!
I have a little book that I read from whenever I look at it. (I figure that that’s when I’m supposed to read it.) The book is: 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao. The other day, the meditation I read said:
The more you dwell in the spirit,
The farther you are from common ways.
If you want to speak of Tao’s wonders,
Few will listen.
I’ll let you meditate on that yourself. Why I bring it up is this: For some reason, the Facebook “Want” button has brought up for me the whole, “sick-to-my-stomach” reaction that I get when I really swim in the “I’m an American Consumer” pool. I don’t believe it’s wrong to buy (and for God’s sake…BUY AMERICAN!) but must we commercialize EVERYTHING we do? Must we broadcast our desires so loudly, so publicly, and to the exact entities that are going to exploit them?
So about Tao? Further reading on the meditation I quoted says: “You may see the truth, but you will find that people would rather listen to politicians, performers, and charlatans. …If you meet someone who can profit by your experience, you should share. But if you are merely a wanderer in a crowd of strangers, it is wisdom to be silent.”
I would never presume to say I see the truth for you, only the truth as it appears to me. And I would venture that the internet has created a sense of community…we are all wanderers in a crowd of strangers, but the crowd is our tribe. So maybe for you, broadcasting your “Wants” publicly – to family, friends, acquaintances, facebook lurkers and advertisers might be ok.
For me? I think I just threw up into my mouth a little bit.
Take a minute and let me know: Have you (would you) clicked “Want” on Facebook?