Ratings Society, AKA Our (Exaggerated) Reality

This episode of Black Mirror, in my opinion, simply illustrates our society in an exaggerated form. To summarize the episode very generally, the main character lives in a dystopian world where every person has a rating, and everyone else can choose to either increase or decrease their rating based upon things the person posts online or actions they do in real life. Throughout the show, the main character, Lacie, is striving to keep up with her highly-rated and glamorous best friend, and has a mixture of admiration and jealousy of her friend due to her social ranking.

Though our society does not function this way completely, we tend to make enormous judgments of a person simply based upon how many followers they have or how many likes they get on a social media platform, regardless of who the person is themselves. When we see pictures of a person thinking looking especially glamorous or having a good time, we often experience some variation the following two polarized thoughts:

  • This is such a cool picture. He/she seems like such a fun person with an exciting life!
  • Ugh. He/she is so self absorbed. He/she must think they are SO cool.

Maybe not everyone thinks this way, but I can admit that these thoughts definitely pop into my head, and I am self-aware of how silly both are. However, they ultimately strike a parallel between our inner thoughts and the way Lacie conducts herself throughout the episode. She wants to be seen just as highly as her attractive friend, even if her friend is not actually that great of a person overall. Though we may not be as extreme as Lacie, many of us would admit that we have had the thought that it would be cool to get as many likes as someone else.

giphy

Almost every single thing Lacie does throughout the episode is to make others rate her positively and increase her overall number, just as how every thing we do on social media is for others to think of us positively.  I highly doubt anyone can say that they have posted on social media without a subconscious intention of eliciting a positive emotion in the minds of others. Whether it be an attractive Instagram picture, a funny tweet, or a politically-charged Facebook status, everyone posts because they want others to have some kind of reaction.

Writing this blog post reminded me of an article I read recently about a fake Instagram account made by the French organization Addict Aide to raise awareness about alcoholism. The account, louise.delage, which can still be found on Instagram, depicts the exciting and fun life of a French socialite. In every picture, the woman is holding some kind of alcoholic beverage. Though her life may look exciting and glamorous, her character could have a serious drinking problem– however, everyone chooses to see the fun, cool side of her and wants to see her posts regardless of who she really is in real life. The account has 111k followers.

fake insta.PNG

The article about the account closes with, “…the glamorous slice of someone’s life that you see online isn’t always what it seems to be… in fact, sometimes it’s not real at all.” Though Lacie was doing things throughout the episode to make her rating higher, the end of the episode made it clear that these glamorous and fake affirmations simply drove her crazy instead of making her happy. The Black Mirror episode and the article both pulled me back into reality, and made me realize how though people’s perceptions of us can still matter overall, the way people who know us personally in real life perceive us is far more important than how our social media followers do.

 Sources:
GIF: https://giphy.com/gifs/video-phone-md15lnCtYpWUM
Instagram Screenshot: https://www.instagram.com/louise.delage/
Article: https://petapixel.com/2016/10/03/fake-instagram-profile-tricked-50000-people-like-photos-alcoholism/

Working Together With Social Media Policies

This year I have been working as a brand ambassador for the Amazon Prime Student brand. One of my responsibilities of this job is to manage a Twitter account for Prime Student at Pitt along with my co-brand ambassador (aka Jenna Stearns in this class!). In other words, I need to completely represent the Amazon brand when posting on the Amazon at Pitt account.

I am not someone who keeps quiet, including on social media. I love posting weird, funny, and at times controversial things. If I had to represent my social media presence overall over the years, I would describe it as standing on the line between acceptable and risky but never crossing over it.  (However, to clarify, by unacceptable I do not mean the “combative behavior, harassment, and bullying” that Blanchard mentions to avoid! I just tend to stick to being weird and funny but a little outrageous.)

The relevance of my brand ambassador role in relation to Chapter 7 of Social Media ROI falls under Section 10 “Social Media Guidelines for Agency Partners, Contractors, and External Representatives”, as I am technically a “contractor” for Amazon. Though Amazon’s brand ambassadors are not official employees, we were still required to be briefed on “do’s and don’ts” of social media. We have strict guidelines about the nature of what we can and cannot post on our assigned Amazon Twitter accounts. Though I consider myself to be someone with a good sense of humor, I sometimes struggle to come up with funny tweets for the account because I am so used to my own sense of humor. I like to post things that have relevance to current events whether they be political or pop culture, and during the election, I thought of so many hilarious tweets I could make on the Prime Twitter account. Obviously, I could not post them because I am representing a corporation that may not want to be associated with a political party. Even though a post may seem innocent, the engagement and attention a post may create is not worth the risk of being accused of libel, which Blanchard defines as “a written or pictorial statement that seeks to damage someone’s reputation”.  Aside from my own uneasiness about tweeting anything even remotely politically tied on the Amazon Twitter, the leaders of the program that manages Amazon’s brand ambassadors sent out a message in months ago explicitly asking us to leave any political references out of our social media usage on the Amazon accounts we are in control of. As Blanchard discusses, the program leaders want to ensure that all workers have clarity about what is acceptable and what is not.

Though I know I never would tweet out anything offensive or risky on the Prime Twitter account assigned to me, I sometimes see tweets from company accounts and wonder what guidelines they have about posting. For example, the following is a funny tweet from Taco Bell that jokes about getting their ideas from a drunk person:

taco bell

Though there is not anything actually wrong with the tweet, it could be viewed as “unprofessional”. I also found some tweets where the Taco Bell account uses strong language, once writing “Doritos Locos Tacos are f***cking good”, including the asterisks to possibly lighten the blow of the strong word. However, Taco Bell must have unique guidelines for the employees in charge of representing the brand on Twitter. Every company has a different voice, and this funny and light voice aligns with Taco Bell’s brand.

For my brand ambassador position, the difficulty of moving past my controversial sense of humor quickly faded, and I now make posts like this one on the account:

brand post nov 2.PNG

This post completely aligns with guidelines, had relevance to the Thanksgiving holiday at the time, and used humor. All I had to do was figure out how to work with policies rather than seeing them as restrictive.

Sources:

Blanchard, Olivier. Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. Indianapolis, IN: Que, 2011. 83-94. Print.

Image 1:

Stopera, Dave. “The Best Of Taco Bell’s Twitter Account.” BuzzFeed. N.p., 12 July 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.
Image 2: