To everyone reading this, you’re just a science project. You’re an experiment.
Every day we log onto social media to chat with our friends, to express inner opinions, to look at the new movie coming out, or even to “like” a new program. What you probably don’t know is that you’re part of a science experiment which is using everything you do, on your free to use social media platform, to create a profile for who you are and how you think. Ever write a status update on Facebook just to see your ads to change immediately to whatever you just typed about? That’s exactly what I’m talking about here.
In a PBS post by Angela Washeck, she quoted Douglas Rushkoff as saying that impressionable teens today have replaced their habit of plastering their personal stuff on their bedroom walls with now moved on to inhabiting social media and sharing their personality through there, but don’t realize how this is benefiting trends and brands (Washeck, 2014). Rushkoff’s newest Frontline documentary “Generation Like” explores how young adults are providing social marketing and advertising with treasure troves of information through their online interactions. Some, like Tyler Oakley, are getting “free” stuff in order to promote certain brands to their friends and/or followers (Washeck, 2014).
What we have perceived as “organic” viral trends are actually meticulously planned marketing strategies (Washeck, 2014). Do we really like these things or are we just monkeys running through the course in order to try and score “free” stuff and fame? While some are being given things for free, they really aren’t free. As these items or brands become popular, their publicity does the work for them. A couple of freebies handed out to some carefully placed popular online identities can turn into millions or billions of revenue for companies, so in a sense, they pay for themselves.
One of the questions being raised is whether or not this is exploitation. Not only have advertising pros learned exactly how young people share, but they’ve also learned just what drives them to share (Washeck, 2014). We, as consumers, are providing free data for marketers and advertisers without even realizing we’re doing it. Some may actually realize it though, and they’re profiting off of your shares and retweets. There is definitely more public relations work being done through this, but there is a lot of behind the scenes advertising as well. We, the consumers, are doing all the leg work without much benefit, unless you feel that the products you’re knowledgeable about now is your payment. According to Washeck, Rushkoff said, ““Over time, there will be a reaction against it…I’m kind of hopeful we’ll have another burst of awareness” (Washeck, 2014).
Knowing how we’re all essentially being manipulated through observation, how do you feel about this? Does this make you think twice about “liking” or re-tweeting something?
Washek, A. (2014, February 19). [Web log message]. Retrieved from