Weekly Fax 15-30: Tar Babies
by Dan Kennedy
From Jerry Seinfeld: “I think all the social media and digital capability makes the world a more annoying place. What reason would Kramer ever have to come in? You lose all those entrances – he could just text me. The whole show goes in the toilet right there.”
Like many bad things, social media – notably Facebook and Twitter – have some useful purposes. Can’t be argued. You can refuse to participate personally as I do, but you can’t argue the point of useful functionality. However, let me tell you what it is really about, at its core, that is so destructive to society and, potentially, to you. It took me nearly two years in Amway before I fully understood the secret business hidden inside the business that no one ever dared speak of, but that made its founders super-rich; the secret behind the entire network marketing industry: it is not really about selling products or building sales organizations. It is about: monetizing deliberate confusion of activity with accomplishment. In harshest terms, about putting people into a state of deep delusion and monetizing that. On a grander and more epically dishonest scale, that’s exactly what Facebook is all about. Getting people to confuse fake importance with accomplishment driven importance; to think that taking pictures of what they eat and posting and sending such things around, showing off their mundane lives in minute detail, is accomplishment is monetized by Facebook by assembling and selling data drawn from all the activity, and by advertiser’s payments for it as a media. The only accomplishment in the entire morass is Zuckerberg’s extraction of money. The rest, activity by the deluded. The societal damage is enormous: entire generations; not a few million involved in multi-level marketing mostly in spare time but 2/3rds of the population dissuaded from engaging in the difficult work of real accomplishment and confused so that they can no longer discern between it and mere, meaningless activity. One is the equal of a serial killer poisoning a few people; Facebook the equal of making 100-million unable to tell the difference between poison and food, so they all, slowly, poison themselves to death, a mass, self-inflicted genocide.
To Seinfeld’s other point: Twitter and texting are replacing real communication. Further, it is far more intrusive and abusive than Kramer bursting through the door. You can lock a door, and unable to get in, Kramer has no expectation of response, and must wait until you are ready to let him engage you. Bill Murray, who, still, steadfastly refuses to use a cell-phone has confessed he owns one only used by his kids, because if they can’t just text him, he’ll never hear from them. I say: good riddance, then. I watch Carla being texted – and expected to instantly respond; on point like a hunting dog all evening, that dam thing at her side, and frankly, it is a major irritant.
All this is consensual, mass mental illness. I feel sadness for the inflicted. It loops to a broader point I’ll ask you to consider: control. With each and every thing, every aspect of your life, person, interaction, etc, you are either in control or being controlled. King or serf. Master of domain or mastered by it. Also, accomplishment. I created a much published definition of productivity, clearly differentiating it from activity. Go ahead and profit all you can from others’ acting as if the two are equal, happy in their deluded state. But don’t fall in yourself. It’s a tar pit.
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