I attended a webinar today. Attended? Watched? Tuned in? One of those. It was run by our friends at Facebook but it was quite a surreal experience. The woman presenting the slidepack sounded like she had done it a trillion times before – which I guess she may well have done. Her bored, robotic voice read the scripted presentation like she was a recording. As one of Zuck’s army, she extolled the virtues of the Newsfeed and emphasised over and over that brands needed to buy more ad units to get in the faces of their elusive consumer.
No surprises there – that’s what Facebook is all about really. Or is it? For some, it is a never ending love hate thing. There is a swell of indignation from people shouting at their laptops “I don’t want to see these ads!!!” Or those whose sneaky Facebook stalking finally gets the better of them when they see something that can’t be unseen. They huffily deactivate their accounts, declaring their relationship with Facebook to be o_v_e_r. They vote with their internet feet, leaving the mega social network in an act of defiance, flipping a virtual bird at Zuck. That will show him, they cry, we will all leave Facebook and it will collapse in a heap of cleverly branded ashes. Oh yeah? You and whose army, you snort. Well you should too, they snap back, daring you with their eyes. But no-one follows the army of one – maybe a few stragglers mutter about definitely quitting Facebook after the weekend. Or maybe the week after, for sure. Then one day you notice they are back, their little green light glowing on the chat bar. Changed your mind, you ask casually. A mumbled response, something about contacting a friend who is on their OE, or sending photos of the kids to Mum. And so it begins again. The love-hate thing starts again.
Back to the webinar. The overly scripted and emotionless voice droned on and on – I let the webinar run in the background while I waited for the Q&As (mainly to see whether it was live or not). I was tempted to submit a comment suggesting she put a bit of personality into her presso – after all, she was talking about a social network not computers talking to computers. I did send in a couple of questions – all were moderated and not visible to other attendees – one was answered with a disappointingly scripted response. And then it was over, she was off to talk to her next scheduled audience, mission completed, questions forgotten.
I was left with an eerie and surreal feeling of being in George Orwell’s world with the same messages playing over and over. And over and over. Just as we are stuck in the love-hate thing, obsessively refreshing our Newsfeed. Over and over.
This post was originally published over on Medium.