The Holiday Season is upon us. Just back from South East Asia, where the temperature never fell below 28 and I had a dragon-fruit juice every morning, I am now gastronomically jetlagged and thermally out of sync. On the flight back I picked up a hefty volume of Haruki Murakamis 1Q84, a book about a parallel universe. I keep staring at it’s sci-fi cover, a mix of Bladerunner and Wong Kar Wai.
A part of me is still in Hong Kong and Singapore, where the future is now and the past always present. Back home I browse through technology news every morning, only to find them already passé. In search for new ideas, I watch an interview with Mark Zuckerberg, and it occurs to me that the only other guy I know who doesn’t blink is a friend from MIT who also made millions right out of college. It must be a genetic “tell”, a mark of 2.0 genius.
The rest of Mark’s interview leaves me disappointed. He keeps repeating that he wants to create a connected world, and that everything is better when you do it with friends. I think in his mind Facebook friends equal real friends, which is scary. Mark’s COO, however, is quick to stress that Facebook is an advertiser’s dream, for it basically gets people to push products and services to their group of friends. Now that makes sense, and is beyond scary.
Still in search of new ideas I glance through a book “Celebrity, Inc.” It talks about the way complete unknowns with no recognizable talent are being shaped into media cash-cows by the industry that sees celebrity as a business. Take the Kardashians who have absolutely nothing going for them. Somehow they ended up in the media spotlight, and now the happy family earns $65mln a year – in product placement or just being paid to show up at parties. This does not feel like science fiction to me, just a dreary sate of the world.
And so, with 2012 around the corner, I decide to skip my New Year’s resolutions. Instead I will come up with 7 crazy ideas that might become reality as early as next year. I imagine:
- A venture fund to invest in celebrity start-ups: a business plan to include personality development, marketing and media coverage, with recurring revenues from celebrity placement (paid to show up for parties, wear brands, get married on a regular basis, etc.) and reality TV income.
- Paying someone to be your friend on Facebook. (This ties nicely with celebrity start ups – if they get paid to go to parties, why not also pay them to friend you?)
- Online ads that use your face in the picture. (With you celebrity friend next to you?)
- Tweebots – people permanently broadcasting their life online, paid by brands to consume their products. Celebrity Tweebots … you get the drift.
- A dating service for online game and FaceBook addicts that analyzes their online schedules for a match made in Virtual Heaven. With a premium account you can also cyber-date your favourite celebrity.
- Facebook Resorts– an ego-friendly destination to raise you social media status. The cost includes a sudden surge in likes and re-tweets and a great amount of people wanting to friend you. Later you will find out that most of your new friends are actually marketing Tweebots trying to sell you something.
- SMDs (Social Media Diseases) – paranoias and manias of all kinds, including multiple online personality disorder, fear of being followed on Twitter, agoraphobia from having too many Facebook friends – most likely to afflict the celebrities first, and spawn a variety of SMD rehabs with heavy product placement.
Is there a parallel universe, the one I could escape to before all of the above becomes a reality? I imagine the year 2Q12, in which the world wakes up before the connected consciousness takes over the collective intelligence… Or perhaps we each live in a parallel universe of our own, choosing or not to participate in the ongoing fragmentation of humanity, as it gets lonelier with every Facebook connection made.