The definition of humanity is being altered by technology. What might have once seemed perfectly in sync with normal behavior -- say, having dinner with someone without checking your cell phone -- now seems perversely outdated.
Now one technology company has decided to stand up for real human beings everywhere. For Adweek informs us that Skype has created a new ad campaign: one that tries to save you from yourself by revealing that Facebook and Twitter use represent inhuman activity.
Because many of you have already been subsumed into the nasty catacomb of social networking, you might not realize what has happened to you. So Skype is running ads that read, for example: "Humans were made to look, listen and feel."
The looking and listening are certainly capabilities that Skype offers.
The feeling thing, though, might still be difficult for those who have been numbed into believing the virtual is, in fact, real. Feelings seem to have been eliminated from conversations in general, being replaced by stratagems to achieve some given selfish goal -- such as securing a date, a job, or four tickets to see Madonna attempt to sing and dance.
Another ad in Skype's campaign says: "Upgrade from a wall post to a first-class conversation." This curiously presupposes that people don't consider wall posting a first-class conversation. Which they patently do. Posting on a wall is immediate, grossly amusing and invites not just one person, but thousands to answer back.
Everyone wants to have the attention of thousands, surely.
Yet another sweetly retro-supportive message says: "140 characters doesn't equal staying in touch." Doesn't it? Surely feeding a little tweet into the world's rolling message machine does more than allow you to stay in touch. It offers you far more than the usual platitudes you get from those with whom you stay in touch by oldy-worldy ways.
No one tweets: "How are you?" No one tweets: "I'm alright, I suppose." Instead, people tweet about their habits in reading, not to mention in the bathroom. From these few characters you get a far broader, more feelingful picture of humanity's innards. You don't even need alcohol to oil the social wheels.
I am very concerned that Skype, in attempting to represent the core of humanity is misunderstanding humanity entirely.
We exist to offer our depth in sly, shallow ways. Something Facebook and Twitter help us do perfectly.