ABC: When YOU Are the Product

You probably have considered the points covered in the following link before, but depending on what you do for a living you may not have considered it in as open and clear-cut a manner as you will after reading For Sale On the Web: You! : All Tech Considered : NPR.

Alec Baldwin's memorable speech in Glengarry Glen Ross

The writer, Dave Pell, is a San Francisco based, self-described “Web-addicted insider, investor and entrepreneur.”  He has been blogging for more than a decade.  The NPR post actually first appeared on his blog, Tweetage Wasteland.  DANGER, Will Robinson:  Unless you are so far geeked-up that it does not hurt your feelings even a little bit to be called geeked-up, be careful going over to Pell’s website.  He is on a level of techno-mania I have not heretofore encountered.  But that may be a good thing…..it’s up to you.

I digress.  (I’m sorry, I blame Pell’s website.)

Perhaps the best line in the NPR piece linked above – which is considerably good — is a comment at the end by a reader named Bruce Smithhammer:  “If you aren’t paying, you are the product.”

Let’s review:  If you aren’t paying, you are the product.

Social media is for all intents and purposes free; that is to say, it is without financial cost.  Many people I know regularly throw out the question to their connected universe, “Will you stay on Facebook if they start charging?”  The results I’ve observed are usually evenly split.

In July 2010 I wrote on this issue on Esse Diem (full post here):  “I worry that any language commoditizing human beings is destined for moral bankruptcy and ultimate failure.”

There is much to love about social media, blogging, and our brave new world; but never forget it is not free.  How do you find yourself responding to the dynamics of using the easy and free techo tools Pell describes?  No joke, a serious reflection on these issues may be the most important ethical and spiritual thing you’ve done for yourself in a long time.  The long-term effect of these incremental dynamics is staggering.

As Robin Williams said in Dead Poets Society (see the previous post), “This is battle, a war gentlemen, and the casualties could be your hearts and souls.”

Just promise me you’ll think about it.

Image credit:  WebLink Blog

MTV’s “Skins”: Has the horse already bolted?

If you are a parent or child advocate, like it or not you should be aware of this program: MTV’s “Skins.”

I worked for a few years as a sexuality educator and advocate for adolescent pregnancy prevention initiatives.  I find I am generally much more comfortable than most adults with the reality that teenagers are sexual people (well, actually, we all are from cradle to grave, but that’s another post).  Where I have always found discomfort is in the lies that marketers tell society in general and kids in particular in order to make a buck.

The video clip linked above is from an interview done by Anderson Cooper with a former reality TV star on MTV and with a representative of the program’s writers and marketers.  As when I did work directly with adolescents, I stick by my philosophy, if you want to know the truth about what’s going on with kids, listen to the kid before you listen to the adult.

The young woman in the interview is in fact no longer a teenager, but she has a perspective on the show that I believe trumps what anyone currently trying to make money off the program would put forth.  I am interested in anyone else’s opinion about the possible value of this program.  Truly, I like to think if I had a teenager in my family right now I would be bold enough to discuss the show with her.  While I am generally grossed out by the ongoing exploitation of children for money on every level, I have a feeling this is not all without value.

Rather than bunch up in outrage, we could see this as an opportunity.  When I watched the clips of the show, I had an unexpected feeling of flashback to my own teenage years.  It was not so much the specific situations as the feeling that now, as an adult, I was getting a look at a private world that I vividly remember wanting to keep under wraps from grown ups when I was that age.

Maybe as a parent thanks are in order.  Kids, MTV is not your friend, but it might be mom’s.  I think you were just busted.  Now turn off the TV, come over here and give me a hug.