Monday, April 15, 2013

Facebook's Latest Message: "We'll help you ignore your family!"

Watch this, first, s'il vous plait:
It's nothing new that writers and producers and various other media types have been trying to enlist our kids with subversion for many years. One could even argue the J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, was doing it. Now, however, we have crossed the line in to overt attempts at this sort of approach. The ad, above, shouts: "Time with family is boring. Disengage from family. Use Facebook more."

Barrie's kind of subversive thinking (don't grow up; adults are boring) was philosophical. Whether you agree with him, or not (I only agree, partially), it was an idea without an ulterior motive. He just wanted staid British society to loosen up; to recognize the importance of childhood and to hear the voices of kids. This kind of ad, however, is an overt and deliberate attempt at characterizing the family as boring and Facebook as exciting.

And you know what? Family dinners can be boring to a teenager (though, I always enjoyed them as a teen -- maybe because I didn't have prescribed stereotypes crammed down my throat 24 hours per day) but, sometimes, you have to stop thinking about yourself and be polite when Aunt Lucy is telling a boring story. That's the polite thing to do, because, as boring as she might be, Aunt Lucy visited your mom in the hospital the day you were born; she remembers to send you a birthday card each year; she loves you.

The hero in this commercial is the girl who succeeds in ignoring everyone else. Now, we have moved from a cute kind of throwing up the hands and saying, "Ah, kids..." Now, we are telling kids: "The internet is your escape. Be smart. Use it." The subversive message here is not one sent in order to question authority or to make a point. This is subversion for the sake of customer-gathering.

And we endure it. And we say nothing.

Well, okay -- we can't all lead protests, but I hope everyone who is a parent is keeping watch over this stuff. I hope parents are taking time to point out the head-games advertisers are playing with their kids, because, in the end, I think out kids will side with us -- as long as they are aware. (I once turned my boys away from their interest in a horrible song on a TV show when I pointed out that they were being deceived: the band weren't really playing their instruments. Saying the song was horrible wasn't going to do the trick, but no one wants to be lied to... They lost interest in the song.)

Our kids won't side with if they think we're stupid. Stupid we are, indeed, if we don't remain diligent about the attacks advertisers are making on them.

(Addendum: I just looked at it again and I am more angry than I might come off in this post. They are actually, by using "Facebook Home," moving toward commandeering the term "home." What's next? -- 2+2=5?)


  1. That is disturbing! Some of my best memories from my childhood are our big family dinners. I was BORED out of my skull at the time, but now I look back and cherish those times. Now that I have a houseful of teenagers, it's the same...dinner time is the BEST. My boys make me laugh and it gets wild...(food being thrown, jokes being told, the stories everyone's awesome) Who would WANT to take that away? I'm thankful my kids don't ever bring their phones to the dinner table, not because we tell them NOT to, just because they don't want to...and the only thing on the TV is when there is a hockey game on. (and that is something we ALL enjoy together) I treasure these times because one day my house will be quiet and I will have these memories to hang on to.

    1. "Who would WANT to take that away?" The sad answer, Carmen, is: "Any one who could profit by taking that away."