I don’t think it’s as bad as people are saying it is.
The Facebook not-a-phone is targeted at people for whom Facebook is the primary purpose of the internet. If you’re one of those people, chances are you’re already okay with Facebook getting all up in your information in exchange for socially sorted communications and connections, I don’t know how this commercial helps make you feel good about giving them that level of trust. If you’re scared of Facebook and don’t want their tentacles anywhere near your life or loved ones, I don’t know how this commercial helps move you from that opinion.
If this #facebook commercial resonates with *anybody* then I know I’ve officially crossed some kind of generational chasm. It’s awful.— Dan Benjamin (@danbenjamin) April 8, 2013
This is not for the tech crowd. This is for normals. Watch how people use their phones. Any time there’s a lull in conversation, or a dull moment waiting in line for something, people pull out their phones. I do it all the time, although I try not to do it when with other people, because it annoys me when I’m with someone and they pull out their phones. When you take your phone out you are telling the world “I would rather be with my phone, and the people on my phone, than with you right now.” Even if just for a moment. It’s a bad feeling to be on the other end of that.
This commercial is about bringing your friends, family, and favorite corporate brands1 with you wherever you go, even if it’s inappropriate to do so.
Facebook Home brings us one step closer to that.2
The commercial is odd to me and you, perhaps, because our news feeds are filled with junk. Our news feeds aren’t at all like what we see in the commercial. Is that really a surprise? We’ve known for decades that fast food hamburgers always look better in the commercial than they do from the drive through. When I watch this commercial a part of me thinks, “I wish my Facebook was more like the one in this commercial” in the same way I might think “I wish my Whopper was more like than one in the commercial.”
Maybe we have the wrong friends. Maybe we need some of the friends that are in this commercial—the stock photo friends.
The Facebook in this commercial is not what Facebook really is. A lot of Facebook is “I need to let everyone know that I’m socially accepted and have value.” If this commercial represented Facebook in real-life the guy would be checking-in at the airport and hinting at how important he is that his company is sending him to a corporate meeting, or that he’s so caring because he’s going home to visit his family for Thanksgiving.
If there’s a criticism to be had here it’s that Facebook is selling itself as something that it really isn’t to a lot of people. The commercial isn’t representative of the real Facebook, because Facebook isn’t about “us” – it’s about “me.” It’s about me and this plate of sushi that was just served. It’s about me and this dumb joke I just made that should have gotten way more likes than it did. It’s about me and this party I’m going to go to Saturday night, and how I must be someone people like because I was even invited in the first place. Maybe that says way more about us than it does about Facebook.