The frontline feature Generation Like shows the many ways we use social media. Preteens, teens, adults of all ages and backgrounds can be found in the interconnected web online, but we’re not alone. There are entities on the web much bigger than us, that hope we stick to these innovative fibers, not so that they may chow down on us, but so that we may consume them.
Who are these ‘like’-obsessed monsters I speak of? Businesses and marketers that are constantly hounding us down, tapping into the automatic decisions we assume are somewhat personal, the ones that try to keep us always in close company but never quite seem to have us in their best interest. I find it extremely unsettling that advertisements and corporate agendas are so intimately influencing our lives and culture. We assume that because a brand is the most visible to us, it is worthy of our trust and loyalty. You see billboards telling you to tweet #attheadvertisers or #topromoteanitem, or you can go on youtube to see a (sponsored) product review after an advertisement for a movie or cleaning product and then once the video begins the youtuber is wearing sponsored clothing and drinking a #coke. There is no escaping product placement. But what, besides showing interest in infiltrating our social and private lives have these businesses done to show us they deserve our favor? Does a brand’s popularity undermine the practices of the business? Is group think getting us any closer to the greater good, or is it steering us in the wrong direction?
It is inspiring however, to witness the empowered user/consumer rise from social media. Providers of services and goods are now in a position to receive feedback from their consumers and target market in such a way that’s never been more effective. You can check out reviews online for just about anything. Tyler the famous youtuber highlighted in the pbs film got Taco Bell to add cool ranch Doritos tacos to their menu. While this specific action was far from revolutionary, it does show the power that consumers now have over businesses, as long as we are able to make a collective effort. We are now more able to not only access the information needed to make sure businesses are working in a way that meets our societal standards, but we can now vocalize straight to them and to others who care just as much as we do. One example of this, that was not included in the documentary was when Starbucks shut down its ‘Race Together’ campaign because of complaints heard on social media. This can be read about here.
It appears as though this generation likes having a mighty voice that allows them to interact with and move the world like never before; as a community, however, they have yet to learn to like addressing the responsibility that comes along with this sociological advancement.