It’s funny, I can’t find one single reference to this commercial on the Internet. I can’t find a picture. I can’t find a video. I have to go from memory when I talk about this commercial, which isn’t hard. The commercial plays non-stop on prime time television and features a smiling, ebullient lady (I can only assume is Hope) taking video with her phone while swiveling in her task chair in order to display a rotating panoramic view of her place of work at Cowan Studios.
It occurs to me, a fella can feel pretty lonely on the old Facebook. He sees his friends having such fun. Such fun! They’re out there scuba diving. They’re in England. They’re in Scotland. They’re taking pictures and sampling the local color. They’re out drinking with other friends, other people you know. Parasailing, for crying out loud! Meanwhile you’re scratching your ass because there’s a pesky itch that refuses to go away. There’s too much to do in the day, but you’re not up for it. You’re too tired.
Then there’s Hope, and her smug expression and her swiveling chair. I sit in a chair that doesn’t swivel. She obviously must think she’s better than me. Why? She doesn’t know me. You don’t know me, Hope!
I know this isn’t Hope’s problem, and it isn’t Hope’s fault. She’s among the very fortunate, the very few who are “living their dreams”. There it is again! Here comes the anger rising up in my gullet like so much partially-digested brie. Why do I have to receive updates about other people’s happiness? Sometimes I ask Bronwyn why she doesn’t post updates on her Facebook page. She runs out of the room and stage-whispers, “It’s personal!” Bronwyn will put up some art-related stuff, or a song she likes, but she doesn’t get personal.
Back to Hope. It occurs to me she really wants us to know what’s going on in her life. She wants everybody to know that she has a new job. She wants everybody to know she’s starting her own business. She wants everybody to know that she’s the boss. She wants everybody to know that she has a swiveling task chair. Why?
The commercial itself appears to be a total fabrication. Hope doesn’t exist. I’m not being deep here. I mean the lady does not exist as a physical entity. She does not occupy space. She does not breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. She does not reproduce. She is The Flying Dutchman, Krampus, and the Easter Bunny all rolled up into one! She doesn’t exist*. She can’t exist.
Hope is the culmination of a dream. The dream began with owning a small business. I’m not sure what business Hope is in, but I assume it involves art, or something like art. She has a large space to work in, a number of desks and a handful of employees, based on the rotating panoramic view. Did I mention she’s positively giddy not only about the whole enterprise, but the notion of being a boss? I wonder what that guy shuffling about behind her thinks of this? You think he’s screwing around on his phone updating his status to say, “This is my Boss!” and then show Hope’s excited countenance. Yeah, when you’re done swiveling around in your task chair, you wanna help us swing a hammer, Boss?
All of this is fantasy. If starting a small business is, in itself, prohibitively difficult, then maintaining it is comparable to a forced march in Hell while wearing Crocs. The median yearly salary for people under the age of 40 drops off three percent every year, down to $34,000. Of course, those figures don’t account for incredible luck. The only way Hope could start a small business would be with a group of investors (aware that they’re going to lose money for at least five years) or because she has rich parents. I don’t know why but her smug little smile tells me Daddy cashed in one of his blue-chip stocks to finance her “dream”, which is fine, but don’t act like you earned it, Hope! Sorry if I sound bitter.
Did Facebook help Hope? Help Hope. Help Hope. That’s hard to say. Maybe she got some friends together and said, “Hey how would you like to have me as a Boss?” and they said, “Sure!” Because why not? A year later she’s in her swiveling task chair, she got the rolly on her arm and she’s pouring Chandon, and she rolls the best weed ’cause she got it going on!
Back to my point. Facebook, when it first started, seemed to me to be an interesting sociological experiment wherein we could study the public yet personal interactions of people based on their changing moods, their changing desires, their romances, their hang-ups, and most importantly, pictures of their cats. It seemed a perfect forum for the exchange of ideas, conjecture, and debate.
Of recent (I would say the last three years), Facebook has become like every other societal microcosm, a petrie dish for growing ideas of liberal rage, trending frustrations, and random psychological experiments. Researchers gather information about user habits. Intrusive software monitors our browsing habits, reminding us we are being watched at all times. Facebook now arbitrarily decides what manner of ideas can be labeled as “hate speech” and then take action to delete those ideas. Case in point: the recent flap over the lion-killing dentist, and Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Facebook users have routinely threatened these people’s lives, and that appears to be acceptable. But try making a Bruce Jenner joke and watch the fun!
As we should remember, Facebook itself is a microcosm for our society; a world unto itself, but still following the rigid rules of our cultural construct. Jokes will not be permitted. Dissenting opinions and the aquifer of ideas and debate will not be tolerated, and because of the increasing presence of smart phones and tablets in our lives, our every movement, however trivial, will be monitored. So the message seems to be: “SHUT UP AND SMILE”. Better yet, sit down on your swiveling task chair, and start bragging about being the boss.
*My apologies to Hope (if you do exist). Damn, Girl! You hard to find!