Social media advertising and the human condition

Social media is ruining more than just little league try-outs; the gaming companies have all gone mad. Before we get stuck in and I give the industry the meat and potatoes on this subject, I want to make it plainly understood I am not some agoraphobe sitting at home lashing out at a changing world. I think social media is neat. Being connected to people with whom you otherwise may not be able to keep in touch is great. Similarly, social media as an extension of ‘the information age’ is only natural.
Sadly, we’re all unscrupulous capitalists and as such cannot be trusted to behave ourselves and indeed we have not. Now besides pop-up adds, fake ‘download’ buttons, a minefield of link bait, and aggressive spam bots, companies are actively seeking (and – annoyingly – finding) ways into our online social lives. Being who I am, I naturally object to this intrusion, although not for the reasons you may think.
I am no fool; standing in the way of profit margins in our society is as dumb as it is futile. Companies are always going to try and squeeze every last cent they can out of people (iPhone 6 anyone?) but – as unenlightened and annoying as I find that – this is not news. What is new is the way in which (gaming) companies have taken to belligerent harassment of their customers (player base) by incentivizing ‘liking’ their Facebook page (something never intended for companies to use) and subscribing to their Twitter feed. Doing so almost always nets the players some small gains but comes with a hidden cost; incessant, unrelenting, shameless, and ultimately highly annoying spam.
I do not use that term lightly; I use it to articulate in no uncertain terms the level of heinousness this has reached.
The problem is not merely the constant intrusions into my Facebook feed, but moreover the fact that most of what they post may be categorized as either ‘flogging’ – the shameless, self-aggrandizing marketing of said company or product – or as ‘information-based announcements’ – almost always a pretext to the former. It’s shit.

Most egregious of all of this are the ‘chance-to-win’ posts wherein the players are unapologetically told to provide de-facto word-of-mouth advertising by posting, re-posting, or absurdly hash-tagging something related to the product with a minute chance they will get some dubious prize which costs the company nothing. It is an insult to anyone halfway intelligent, but the marketing departments know their audience well; retards, every last one.

For all of us who have ever received a Candy Crush invite, it us all too clear that the negative impact of being a shameless corporate whore is drastically off-set by the extra revenue generated by aggressively manipulative social media campaigns. This is not unprecedented. We do this to ourselves. In short: we cannot be trusted. We cannot be trusted with the freedom to say whatever we want, nor can we be trusted with the freedom to do whatever we want.

More and more I long for a system of accountability that simply does not exist. A safeguard for basic morality and irrefutable logic that would prevent companies from saturating our lives with the half-truths, blatant lies, and creatively insidious marketing strategies we are inundated with on a daily basis.

I found out today that ‘skin whitening’ products will constitute a 20 billion business in 2018 with 80% of women in Nigeria already using such products on a regular basis, 20% of women in Korea have undergone at least one cosmetic surgery procedure, and perfectly good looking people are having their wedding pictures professionally photoshopped, and that tells you everything you need to know about marketing right there.

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