My Favorite Facebook Trend of 2010: Getting People to “Like” Your Fan Page

Getting “liked” on facebook is always authentic, right?  I guess I should just ask all 800 of my authentic facebook “friends”.

One of the popular online trends of 2010 has been to try to convince/bribe people on facebook to “like” your fan page.  I hope it’s okay to think that concept is hilarious, because it cracks me up every time.  Sure, having thousands of people “like” Conan O’Brien’s fan page on facebook had to have helped him, but the difference with him was that he nor his crew had anything to do with it.  True fans began and empowered the Coco movement on their own.  But I know that all entertainment and business entrepreneurs are being told by the experts to get people to “like” them on facebook and think up clever sayings for Twitter because this is the age of networking and doing those things helps ensure prosperity or at least survival.  And they’re probably right.

But still, it reminds me of being in the 1st grade and some kid you barely know asks for your slice of pizza during lunch and attaches this promise to his request: “I’ll be your best friend…”  As a young child, even then I always knew there was no authenticity there.  But then again, we are all well aware that at least a quarter of our facebook friends are not actually our friends- in fact, I have no clue who a quarter of them even are, and I bet they would say the same thing about me.

I’m currently (and slowly) reading a book called Microtrends, which explains the power of 1 percent of the population liking anything.  In the introduction of the book, author Mark J. Penn explains, “By the time a trend hits 1 percent, it is ready to spawn a hit movie, best-selling book, or new political movement.” According to the book, that 1 percent of the American population he is referring to literally means 300,000 people; not even a third of a million people.  In essence, the idea behind being “liked” on facebook is an effort to show the marketing executives that one’s cause has a following close to or reaching 300,000 people.

I’m all about other people being successful and even helping them to get there in big meaningful ways, but being asked to be “like” anything ultimately just reminds me of the fact that if everyone was rich, that no one would actually be rich- in the same way, only a limited amount of people can be famous.  And if you try to manipulate the true Invisible Hand of Coolness and Popularity in a room full of thousands of other people also metaphorically yelling to each other, “Hey, look at me!”, the noise just cancels out most of the room, while the actual trend leaders are in a different room down the hall.

I would rather know that a person authentically “likes” me, not by creating my own fan page and asking people to publicly acknowledge my awesomeness in a predictable facebook gesture.  But then again, I’m not cool enough to think up clever Twitter posts either.  I’m so out of touch- I’m such a bitter, old, stubborn man.  Now get off my property!

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Every Breath You Take of the Air Tonight

What were Phil Collins and Sting really singing about?

It happened just a few weeks after I was born, then again exactly two years later in May of 1983. A man living out the final months of a dying marriage releases a song that goes on to become one of the biggest hits of the ‘80’s and most replayed songs on syndicated radio stations like Jack FM. Both of these men’s songs were destined to be misinterpreted and misunderstood. Songs that were sad realizations from a man watching the love of his life slip away from him, though she shared his bed every night. I’m referring to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” and Sting of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”.

Known for its memorable drum introduction over two minutes into the recording, its ghostly atmosphere, and its refrain of “oh Lord” that allows the song to exist not only has a premonition of his soon divorce and confrontation with his then-wife, but also as a desperate acknowledgement that God is overwatching the nightmare unfold, “In the Air Tonight” remains the perfect song for a drive on the interstate on an overcast day in October.

However, to many fans of the song (who wouldn’t be?), the meaning has always been vague and abstract.  Obviously some mysterious big event is about to happen and the accusing tone reveals anger, distrust, and sadness. So it only makes sense that a believable urban legend was born: A man watched Phil Collins’ brother drown and didn’t try to save him. Phil Collins years later invited the man to his concert and gave him a front row seat and sang the song to the man to drench him in guilt. The man later died of a heart attack. I believed this story for three years, until I did some research myself (on Wikipedia) to find out the truth. The Drowning Man Theory makes sense and it’s easy to want to believe it. But once I found out it’s a song about Phil Collins’ fading first marriage, the depth and weight of the song became so much clearer to me.

In a strange parallel, Sting woke up in the middle of the night and wrote “Every Breath You Take” as he watched his first marriage disintegrate. It went on to become the #1 single of 1983, surprisingly beating out all of Michael Jackson’s mega-hits that year (Thriller, Billy Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Human Nature, The Girl is Mine, Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’). While the song comes across as a vow of undying love to many, with its promise to keep watch over his object of affection, it’s actually the opposite. It actually described Sting’s feeling of deep loss, knowing he would never fully get over losing his first wife. He didn’t want to let her go, but the marriage was ended regardless. Therefore, the “stalkerish” feel of the song is completely intentional.

Two British men who fronted successful pop rock bands in the 1980’s both wrote a song at the end of their marriage that went on to be a classic and unforgettable hit. And many people will never know the truth about the background of the writing other than what is written here. That’s often the case though: Some of the biggest legendary things in life are surrounded by mystery, only adding to the intrigue.