Monthly Archives: March 2013

Variations of Equality on Facebook

Marriage EqualityIn his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman tells us that “the medium is the messenger.”  What he meant (IMHPO) is that information is often tainted by the way in which we receive it.  That which is delivered through devices intended for amusement, well will be considered amusement before it is considered informative.

What Postman was talking about at the time was of course the ubiquitous glowing box that cornered the information market for much of the 20th century: the television. But now we have multiple glowing devices, and within these devices submediums. There are niche news sites, micro-blogs and aggregators, and they all come together on Social Media.

Yesterday, as SCOTUS heard arguments about the right of all couples to have the right to marry, something happened on Facebook. In an act of solidarity many users, myself included, changed their profile picture to the red equality sign signifying their support of that right. It felt good to say, not only do I pay attention, but I care about this issue.

It didn’t take long though for variations of the statement to appear. I think part of the reason we like Facebook so much is because we like to laugh. So, we post things to make each other laugh. Even variations on something a majority of Americans agree to support are subject to some joshing.

Which brings me to my question. If the messenger (read: Facebook) is the medium, what is implied of any message we put out on that medium? If we dilute a message with the inevitable silliness, did we really get it at all, or is that an implication that we got it, understand it and now must have fun with it? And, if we are having fun with it, does that mean we own it?

Here are some of my favorite variations of  Support for Marriage Equality







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Filed under Message, Social Media

In Mobile We Trust

In Mobile We TrustIn case you’ve been living under a rock, the world is digitally mobile now. You may already realize this, particularly if you are reading these words on a mobile device. (Thanks by the way, all readers are greatly appreciated). Moving on…

NBC News published this picture illustrating my opening statement. In the span of eight years our instinct has changed from merely witnessing an event to digitizing it for later use. Maybe the clips will end up on Facebook, or Twitter, or Tumblr or Pinterest under the heading “I was there.” It use to be that a descriptive letter or post card to a close friend was enough to validate such an experience. Now, maybe not so much.

It makes me wonder why we want to digitally capture so many things. Is it so we can keep a piece of history as our own?  And if that’s the case, is that desire the result of years of history lying to us or simply the desire to tell the story from our own perspective?

Years ago, when I was in Italy, I had a professor who included a field trip to Rome as part of her art history class. She invited students from her other classes to attend as well, but she had one rule: no video cameras. This was in the early 90’s when most video cameras still had view finders. Her reason for the ban was this: when people feel the need to capture a place or event, they miss out on the experience: the quiet internal contemplation that one was meant to have when seeing the Sistine Chapel for the first time for example.

As a species we are programmed to hunt and gather. So our instinct to capture everything of interest around us makes sense from that perspective. But as an evolving group, I can’t help but hope that we put our down the magic box occasionally and simply witness what’s going on around us. I think we gain so much more when we do.



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Filed under asides, Mobile, Tools