February 7, 2011

Whose "Twitter revolution" is this?

There are limits to advertising. Timothy Hutton should have known better than trivializing the sacrifice, aspirations and beauty of Tibetans just to promote "Groupon.com" (which itself sounds like a cause of mad cow disease) during the Superbowl. Last week's outrage was Kenneth Cole trumpeting its disregard for democratic struggle and suffering in Egypt. #TwitterFail. Hopefully, Hutton will be subject to suitable opprobrium from the Hollywood set. There's nothing illegal about either ad campaign, but don't expect me to be a customer in this century.

Has our TV-addicted/Facebook-captive/hashtag-based multi-tasking lifestyle so removed us from reality, that it's reasonable for marketing experts to treat us all like star-struck adolescents? Are politicians also reading us correctly? Perhaps the past week's pair of offensive ads will provoke us to evolve beyond the superficial, point-and-click infancy of our cyber-topia.

Also clear from the past few weeks, is that Tunisia and Egypt have not fit the model of "Twitter revolution", or Facebook, or any "social media" other than word of mouth and spontaneous outrage. However, these new media have allowed millions worldwide to follow and support the emergence of democracy on the ground. It is helping to sensitize us and break through our WiFi- and BlueTooth-inspired haze. What we read on our feed can have a deeper meaning, and help us match names to faces, and real people with real consequences.

We've been slapped twice across the face, once by Kenneth Cole and once by Timothy Hutton. Thanks, guys, we needed that.

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