Thursday, December 17, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Anti-social Media

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

This may be the worst idea to come down the media pipeline in a very long time. Or it may just be the idea in the worst taste in a very long time. I'm betting it scores very high on both scales.

I begin this little audio temper tantrum by admitting that I spend more time on Facebook than I really should. Not that it interferes with work or my personal life. At least not yet. but especially with my iPhone offering virtually ubiquitous access I check it a lot. Which is absurd because it's not as if there's always something interesting waiting for me. The occasional note from a friend, the rare but wonderful discovery of a friend I'd lost touch with (just had that happen last week again, very cool), or the random bit of lunacy that one of my siblings likes to inject into my virtual life for everyone's amusement. I mean, really, do I NEED to check it four, five, six or more times a day? No. Which is why some folks are either cutting down on their social media or just walking away. I can totally understand it.

But then you find the folks at seppukoo dot com. This admittedly tongue in cheek website offers you the chance to put an end to all of that obsessive observing of the boring details of your friends lives. By committing virtual suicide. Seppuku is the ancient Japanese tradition among the samurai of ritually killing themselves in order to preserve their honor. It's a very serious thing. The online folks (who spell the word differently) say the following about what they offer:
"Seppukoo playfully attempts to subvert this mechanism by disconnecting people from each other and transforming the individual suicide experience into an exciting 'social' experience."
The "mechanism" they are aiming at is Facebook, by the way. Once you're "gone" you get a memorial wall where folks can stop by and leave you messages.

So is this a really bad idea or just a really bad taste idea? I don't think you can argue too much with the second point. Making a joke where the word suicide is part of the punchline is just nasty. Doing it with the kind of smug, self satisfied attitude found on the web site is rather sickening. If your virtual life is interfering with your actual life, or if you're not sure where the one begins and the other ends then it may be time to take a step away for a while. Surely we can call that a virtual vacation. If you really need or want to just walk away from the whole thing then go right ahead. But spare us all the pseudo-sophistication of a web site that calls making an adult decision virtual suicide.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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