I started this morning pinned down in a firefight and smelling bacon. OK, I really need to explain this now. It involves neither gaming nor cooking and it all has to do with social media.
We live in a world where the words “social media” and radical transparency go together like … well, bacon and eggs (pun unintended) and they have become so clichéd that we rarely stop to think about their true meaning or their true impact. We take it almost for granted now that we click on a piece of news, read it, watch and watch a video. The ability to enter into other people’s worlds and see life through their eyes goes almost as unnoticed, as the synthesis of new thoughts and ideas that is happening behind our own eyes, as a result.
And then this happens:
The video, just over three minutes long was shot on the head cam of a US soldier engaged in a firefight with the Taliban in the Kunar Province, Afghanistan. The tiny puffs of smoke by his feet are real bullets. Hot pieces of metal which can kill you in ways that defy respawning. To say that the video is scary is to understate. There is a deep, emotional sense of realization of the horror of the situation that defies superlatives and renders any witticisms powerless.
Here’s a real-life firefight! The video contextualizes everything we think about war. It disabuses us of the precision of intent and orchestration of execution that countless films have fostered upon us. It drives painfully home the point that lives are at stake, on both sides. That technology apart we have barely progressed from the screaming tribes facing each other across a river, busy thumping our chests and aimlessly throwing heavy stones at each other.
A simple video like this can inform, transform, shape and drive more rational thought and arguments about war, its effects, righteousness and validity than any number of late night TV debates fuelled by the usual bunch of talking heads.
And then there is bacon.
A trending topic on G+ right now, the projected global shortage of bacon has drawn the suggestions, thoughts, ideas and even, yes, creativity (Van Gogh’s Starry Night recreated with bacon) of countless people across the globe who suddenly meet over the commonality of a slice of pork.
Many of them probably do not even like bacon. Yet bacon has now become cool.
There are more people from more countries, connecting to discuss bacon than at any other time in history. And all because it’s a trending topic.
The ability to transition from the intensity of the battlefield to the banality of a world famous painting recreated using streaks of meat is a modern phenomenon. We straddle the digital world, starring at our many different screens like some sort of New Age demigods. The reality of what occurs suddenly permeable to our gaze.
That is the power of social media. This is why it is changing the world.
Now you will ask, how? Why? When? Is it for the better or for the worse? Is it making us smarter? Will it stop us from destroying ourselves? Will it provide the answers we need in time? I honestly do not know. Social media is a tool. A medium. The next stage of development in our communications evolution. What we do with the knowledge it so readily makes available to us, how exactly we use the radical transparency it provides is, entirely, the measure of us.
How Social Media Works
The Value of Hothousing Ideas and Exchanging Views and Opinions
Can Social Media Democratize the Lawmaking Process?
This is the Fragmented Attention Span Age
How McDonald’s Marketing Strategy Helps It Win in Slow Markets