Everyone’s worried about, and infuriated by, the incursion of brands and advertisements into the supposedly safe spaces of our beloved social media . But I don’t think we’re in danger of being brainwashed just yet. We don’t live in The Lawnmower Man, or The Matrix, or A Clockwork Orange. We live in the gladiatorial arenas of ancient Roman times, except now people are goring each other with keyboards instead of swords. Big companies with goods to hock aren’t going to ruin our on-line experiences: we, the baying mob, are going to ruin theirs. To paraphrase The Watchmen’s Rorscharch: “I’m not in the internet with you, Coca Cola, YOU’RE IN THE INTERNET WITH ME!”
I would absolutely hate to be the guy who has to monitor a company’s social media presence, and respond to customer comments and complaints. Any time I’ve checked out the promoted page of a company brave or foolish enough to roll up its trousers and wade into Facebook’s stormy waters, its comment threads have been alive with inspired (and not-so-inspired) trolling, righteous indignation, and insane levels of rage.
A typical exchange goes something like this:
A little bowl of ever-so-slightly genetically modified sunshine every morning!
AngryPat: “YOUR FUCKING CORNFLAKES KILLED MY FATHER!”
ReynoldsCornFlakes: “Hi Pat! Thank you so much for your comment, and I hope you’re having an absolutely super day. Brrrr! It’s a bit cold outside, isn’t it? So sorry to hear about your father, but I can assure you that our products are only made from good, wholesome ingredients, and all of our manufacturing is overseen by beautiful unicorns in magical palaces built at the ends of rainbows. If anything, our cornflakes should have added a good five years to your father’s life. Was he a drinker, Pat?
CHIKE MAX-PERFORMANCE TRAINERS
If you’re looking for a decent shoe, jog on.
HippyGenoveve: “How many little Taiwanese children had to be whipped to death on a yearly wage of sixty pence to perfect your new range of death boots, you fucking Nazis?”
ChikeTrainers: “Hi Genoveve. Amazing to hear from you! My late mother was called Genoveve. Beautiful woman. Let me just assure you that we only subcontract to companies who subcontract to companies who subcontract to companies who subcontract to companies who subcontract to companies who we’ve heard on the grapevine are absolutely reliable. And if that isn’t enough to reassure you, then please remember that our partners use only the best, free-range Taiwanese children.
Fucks your heart, makes you fart…
CarcinogenicGraham: “What do you cunts enjoy the most, giving people stomach cancer or diverting water supplies from the poor indigenous peoples of the Indian sub-continent?”
LepsyNax: “Graham, I know this is crazy, because we’ve only just met, but how would you feel about our familes all going on holiday together later this year? Thank you for your passionate comment. Reading between the lines, I think what you’re really asking is: ‘How do we get the taste of our mouth-watering cola product just right? Is it some sort of magic?’
There’s something deliciously democratic about all of these conglomerates finding themselves at the mercy of angry (in most cases justifiably angry) proles like you and me. Their on-line pages are slowly transforming into long lists of bad-for-business buzz words; endless cries of CANCER! DEAD KIDS! EXPLODING EYES! YOUR COCOA MADE MY ASS BLEED!
I used made-up generic brands for the jokey examples in this article, rather than risk using real company/brand names like Kellogs Cornflakes, Nike or Pepsi Max, which would’ve been foolhardy at best.
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