Facebook sharkbait

First, what the press is saying: “Facebook has turned all the people who rooted for it into a lynch mob….from media darling to devil. The most interesting thing about Facebook right now is who will replace it.”

My take: Millennials at their core are civil libertarians, but not in the way Boomers are. Unlike Boomers, they trust some things: family, community, human nature … even certain institutions. Yes, they also distrust hype and hubris. But not with the revolutionary, righteous indignation of us boomers. I perceive their attitude to be more like “Duh, so you like, were expecting a corporation to be truthful and protect your information?!! Of course they’re going to screw you if they can.” Reputations don’t have as far to fall, because expectations are lower and cynicism… no, that implies disillusionment; an absence of illusions is much more prevalent.

On the other hand, a strong reaction is possible to this Facebook thing, because once the exodus starts among friends, it will quickly accelerate. Because in my view Millennials to a large extent have not yet discovered how dangerous and vulnerable their reliance on digital media and identities can be. When they realize they’ve been stalked by info profiteers, I think there’ll be a backlash and a switch to something that makes the virtual community they desire easy while decreasing the actual commitments and facts they have to share.

All of this confirms my belief that colleges should go slow on being too diabolical with the info harvest methodologies. Be careful about the microsites that tie in email compaigns to a unique URL for each prospect. Bear in mind that when you as a frosh prospect get a postcard in the mail that shows a photo of a volleyball player at some school, pulled from a database because you are tagged as a volleyball player… and that what you’re thus experiencing is not a legitimate personal interest in you… When you finally see that XYZU was simply including you in a numbers game, as a calculated effort to catch your attention…. well, you may wonder why you ever expressed an interest in XYZU. You’ll feel hustled — invited to the dance through an impersonal marketing effort, made possible by combing through your digital life for hot buttons to push.

Ultimately I think the pendulum will settle closer to the gravitas of authenticity … of colleges simply being who they are, and letting prospects pick their school based on how that fits with what feels right for them.

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