I scanned, I scanned, I scanned (tra la) a marketing blog last night (tra la). It was brief, and scanning made it briefer! It was pithy, and too true, so true, sadly (and comprehensibly and brilliantly) true – a testament to our attention economy, our online attention deficit, our tendency to tantalize with tweets and titillate with text!
This is our brave new world of online ninfomania, contagious kamikaze communiqués. (Did you read about Swine Flu at Wimbledon? Check for tweets to get the scoop! True, or not quite true?)
So how DO we know what is true, semi-true, or false?
I found this amusing tidbit in some online dating spam, encouraging those of us over 35 not to lose hope.
“You may even find that men want to date an older woman instead of girls in their 20’s whose main concerns are shoes and nail colors. Mature women are intelligent and can speak on many topics.”
False fact? Or just unwanted knowledge?
Catherine Zeta-Jones is nearly 40 – does she count?
I’m a “mature woman” – and shoes and nail colors are essential on my planet! However, I am also intelligent and can speak on many topics; I daresay I was intelligent and could speak on many topics in my 20s, too.
Were those false facts just now, or partial truths? Does it matter?
Here’s another “fact” to consider:
As of 8:15 this morning, Eastern Time, the WordPress banner boasted 160,846 new posts, 209,285 comments, and 45,914,397 words today.
Isn’t it likely that among those 45 million+ words, there are plenty of false facts, and certainly, unwanted knowledge? How do we determine what’s true, what’s a little bit true, what’s false, and what matters?
And where is the fine print on those figures? Do they apply to English only or all the languages that WordPress supports? And in what time zone did “today” begin?
Does it matter?
If the goal is to get your attention, and the goal is achieved?
LET’S TALK SHOES!
What matters to me? Shoes! And words, and images, and acts of writing, teaching, reaching, speaking; parenting, exploring, flirting, touching, constantly transforming… learning! Even from an article that strikes a small chord of dismay – and clarity. My starting point for this morning.
And the conclusion of the article which set off the sensational spark, the sorrow, the rant? Paraphrasing:
Social media marketing is here to stay, so get used to it.
Newspapers may be folding, facts may be fading, but we’re profiting from trends and friends in our new modes of marketing.
(Shhhhh… ever hear of fair weather friends?)
I do see the value in our new marketing models – and the effectiveness, as things shake out. Yet it seems we’ve given away “in depth” and “authoritative” in journalism, even if unintentionally, in favor of “here and now, on any electronic device, from any source.” And that matters.
Any one of us can communicate on so many platforms – rapidly and prolifically. It’s so much more enticing than 15 minutes of fame! We’re cached, cashing in, and constantly captioning, condensing, encapsulating.
So where’s the harm?
Not to worry!
Take 140 characters and distill. Crystallize. Tell me what you think! Craft your message into a tiny URL. Tinier! You can do it! Catapult your words onto the World Wide Web – anything at all. Go on. It’s easy!
And it’s not a new principle, just new technology spreading like wildfire. Word-of-mouth has always been effective; the 90-second elevator speech to represent ourselves, a useful tool.
So why not produce two lines to communicate key messages about products and services, or a news flash that points to yet another source?
(Spread the word! Someone, somewhere might want to know… or is it just the act of spreading the word that helps us feel like we matter?)
I admit, right hand raised, left on my Manolo’s, I indulge in my share of texting and tweeting… or did you already know? Did a little bird tell you?
Ye of little faith!
Do you doubt that the article of which I speak speaks truth, nothing but the truth and the whole truth? It sounded like truth, made sense like truth, and certainly had elements of truth.
I bow to its authority and its voracity! Because it rang true for me – loudly, clearly, even as I resist its message and see its opportunities.
And if truth is stranger than fiction, then why not believe that we are increasingly willing to scan, skim, and chat rather than build or create?
Or is this just a new sort of “build and create?”
Oh, bemoaning loss…
But where is the beauty of the object I may hold between my palms like a face, sweet smelling and worthy of my caress?
Where is the substance of the printed page, the bound book, the chair on which I can sit, its four legs, if no longer curvaceous, reliable and sturdy and elegant in their own way? Where are our inventors, our fabricators, our production lines, our makers of mechanisms that improve quality of life, somehow, somewhere?
Where is the tangible thing, the EDIFICE, the oeuvre d’art?
Am I showing myself to be a redundant romantic?
And where are the supporting references, the sources, the facts, for so many assertions claimed and relied upon in our brave new electronically assembled info-sphere?
Lost in the dryer with the missing socks…
And the process that guarantees the fact checking?
Sucked into the black hole that scientists tell us exists.
Time to “face facts?”
We LOVE social media!
We love the blogo-sphere, its mouthing off word-of-mouthiness, our fingertips tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard or thumb-stumbling across the blackberry, the video snippet as news, news as entertainment, entertainment as cruising, zapping, surfing, skipping along the crest of the next wave as we make love (quickly) to a paramour, a spouse, a sex toy.
Not only is our 21st century universe speedy, mobile, vibrantly viral and virile, but it’s fun, fun, fun and feels free!
On freedom (and unwanted knowledge)
Remember – free information is the way and the wave…
And the old adage that you get what you pay for… is that really FACT, or is THAT merely fiction? A paradigm that is changing and will become semi-fact, partial fiction, and therefore, untrue?
We text, tweet, buzz up, and blog – therefore we are.
Does anyone remember the child’s game of telephone, and how the message distorts, bit by bit, whispered from source to source? Have we forgotten those valuable lessons, or are we capitalizing on short memories as well as short attention spans?
Yet word-of-mouth marketing communication models are now exploding in popularity – and they work. They are a fact of the informational landscape that is now a fact of life.
(Do I have any facts and figures to substantiate what I just wrote? Does it matter? It feels true, doesn’t it?)
Oh, for a therapeutic change, a consumer contribution to GNP! Time for shoe shopping, even if I’m not in my 20s?
I am an elephant in the room, a fly on the wall, a fly on the tail, now the tail, the tail wagging the dog, the drugged dog on dope, loopy and bounding through a park in the Parisian Marais, or possibly Seattle.
Je me casse, je file, je m’en vais… des boutiques m’attendent ! Il doit y avoir des soldes quelque part, non ? Des chaussures ? Des bas couture ?
FACT: Perhaps there are no facts, or fewer than there used to be, or too many to ever capture between my fingers, or in a parade of butterfly nets. Perhaps it doesn’t matter.
OLD WISDOM, BUT STILL TRUE: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king!
Ah, to reluctantly accept that substance hasn’t disappeared! It is only that the universe is perpetually expanding – for more surface static, more niggling noise, and now we can expedite our role as experts in… anything!
Même moi! (In the land of the myopic, may the bespectacled be Queen?)
Please pass the PC, the notebook, the laptop, the iPhone, the Blackberry – so much to see and learn and say! So much unwanted knowledge to be found… and once found, it adopts a home, spins into a sequence, sends itself to friends, spreads, soars, speeds and settles on X-marks-the-spot (in the cerebellum) where it sticks and tricks the fingers to dial, to type, to order, to buy!
And now the unwanted knowledge has morphed into knowledge I want… its heft and velocity and diverting dance have seduced me, and I want more and more and more – it’s brain candy, eye candy, foot candy and suddenly – I want the unwanted, the nugget that’s been optimized, tagged, tweeted, clicked, mailed, blogged and buzzed! Time for conscientiously crazed, therapeutic shopping – fast, fast, fast as I rifle for my Discover, my Master Card, my Visa… what’s a little more debt when it comes to mes amours et mes amoureux – Anne Klein, Jimmy Choo, Steve Madden, Via Spiga and oh! for a rendez-vous petit pied par petit pied with Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik!
But we have texts, templates, twits as bits, cyber-friends, cybersex and sexy shoes!
But I wonder – as a country that used to make so many things, does making chatter count?