Monday, May 17, 2010

Nowhere without my internet

This Roger’s ad definitely falls into that bewildering category. It’s a nice enough ad, with an attractive woman, going through her daily routine while carrying a laptop with her, a common enough sight in today’s world, and narrating the joys of portable internet connections while claiming at the end “I wouldn’t be anywhere if I couldn’t take the internet with me.”

There’s a lot wrong with this statement. First off, it implies a huge existential crisis. If you cannot be without the internet, then you cannot be, and yet, you exist in your material form as flesh and blood, you walk, you move, you breathe- and yet, you do not exist. But cyberspace is, in and of itself, a complex place where you cannot technically ‘be’ either, since the internet is not a place that you can hang out or a person that you can call. So before this turns into a huge headache, let’s just say the being and not being thing is one of the main problems with this statement.

The second problem is that this woman is in a lot of places. She’s hopping cabs, taking trains, sitting on her car, lying on park benches and hanging out in a café. That’s a lot of places to be in one day and a lot of modes of transport to use. What’s even more bewildering is that it’s impossible to figure out what this woman does. Apparently, she moves around a lot, shops online, tweets, blogs, emails, enjoys the icing off cupcakes, but what does she actually do? Is she some sort of international vagabond heiress or a supermodel on her day off? Either way, that’s a pretty bad spokesperson to use for a product used by a mass population of working class slobs like the rest of us.

You also have to wonder if this woman has anything to do because she’s lying on a park bench in the middle of the day and sitting on the hood of her car near a beach at the end of it. Who does this, anyway? And if you really had time to go to parks and beaches, would you really be glued to a machine while you were at it? Maybe this woman should chillax a little, do a little sun tanning, toss a Frisbee, and join the clam bake down the beach?

This woman looks really happy in this commercial and maybe it’s because the internet plugs her in and maybe it’s because she doesn’t work for a living. Or maybe it’s because she’s a hired actress for Roger’s. I don’t have a love of corporations, but I don’t hate them for existing. What I do resent is the fact that this ad implies that it’s better to be on the internet than it is to be in real life, actually interacting with people or taking in the scenery around you.

If I was some hot chick that didn’t have to work and travelled all of the time, I would be hot footing it to see sights, shop in real stores, and enjoy a glass of wine on a terrace, lost in my own thoughts. I would picnic on park benches and watch the children play and the adults come and go and watch the birds do funny things. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

I understand that the internet is a great tool and a source of information, socializing, dating, shopping, banking and lots of other great life things. I also think that it has its limits and shouldn’t be used to drown out or replace the real world. It also isn’t a way to validate your existence. You don’t not exist because of the internet or without it. You are a person and you exist as a person with a mind, choices, opinions and a true sense of identity which isn’t owned or manufactured by any type of company or interest group. And you would still be a person and you would still be yourself if you were living in a cave in the Himalayas with a llama named Junga. And no internet.

Be plugged in. Take the internet with you if you’re far from the ones you love or if you need it for work or just want to play a few games while in transit. But don’t let it own you and don’t let it take you away from actually experiencing your surroundings.

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