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Imagine if Facebook existed in the 1950’s:

This Anne Taintor-esque video got me thinking about  how our romantic relationships have evolved in the digital age.

Allow me to break it down:

A typical love story circa 1991

Boy meets Girl.  Boy asks for Girl’s phone number.  Boy calls Girl.  Boy leaves message.  Girl calls Boy (after waiting a day just to make him sweat.)  Boy asks Girl out.  Girl says yes.  Boy meets Girl at the movies.  Or the mall.  Or the arcade.  Boy and Girl hold hands.  Boy kisses Girl.  Girl goes home to write in her diary and draw pink hearts next to Boy’s name.  Girl stares at the phone willing it to ring… (Boy is probably doing the same.)

This is how it was back in my day.

No Instant Messages.  No text messages.  We had conversations voice-to-voice, and  in person.  You know, when we weren’t gazing romantically at each other (and by gazing romantically at each other, I really mean making out.)

Romance blossomed over the phone – tone, inflection, nuance were carried through live wire.  The phone made it easy to feel connected and stay connected.  And ultimately, to disconnect: All my breakups were done over the phone.  Sure, while face-to-face is the “mature” way to go, when feelings are fragile, the phone made it less messy.

(And hey, more intimate than a post-it note.)

Falsh-forward twenty years.

A typical love story circa 2011

Boy Facebook-stalks Girl. (Or Girl Facebook-stalks Boy) Boy pokes Girl. (Or Girl pokes Boy.)  Boy pokes Girl.  Girl pokes Boy. Etc… ad nauseum.  (And all of this without a steak dinner!) Boy and Girl finally get around to friending eachother.  (And it’s about time! I mean, after all, they’ve been poking for a while now.)  Boy and Girl chat on Facebook into the wee hours of the morning for several nights. (They share a lot of LOL’s.) Boy and Girl exchange phone numbers.  Boy texts Girl.  (Or Girl texts Boy.) Boy texts Girl.  Girl texts Boy.  Boy pocket-dials Girl.  Boy texts Girl: “w2ho” Girl knows this is text-speak for “Want to hang out?” and she replies “wen” (because typing that extra letter and the question mark take waaay too much effort and/or make it look like she’s trying too hard.)  Boy and Girl go on a date.  Boy and Girl check in on FourSquare.  Boy and Girl change respective Facebook relationship statuses.  And the chats and the messages and the pokes fly over cyberspace.

“XOXO” and “I <3 U” fill the spaces on the screen.

Until they don’t.

Breaking up is hard to do.  But on Facebook, with a click and a drag, it becomes very easy.  Remember when Matt Damon blew off Minnie Driver on Oprah?  Well, it can happen to anyone – on a smaller scale, but still.  When a relationship ends, 1123 of  your closest friends will know about it.  But the good news is that hottie from your econ class who is lurking your page knows it, too.

Catching Up to the Future: How technology in Minority Report wasn't that far off

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I remember the first time I saw the movie Minority Report.  It was the Summer of 2002,  a time in American  history when we really chased hard after heroes.  We jumped from media headline to media headline, looking for something — anything — to feel a little safer at night even if it meant clinging tightly to make-believe.   And who can blame us? Just ten months before we woke up to horrific images splayed across our television sets.

(A scared new world.)

Terrorists stuck a four-pronged spear in our  softspot, and we were still reeling, and while we pumped ourselves up for this new War on Terrorism, we were gripped by a gung-ho zeitgeist.  George Dubya was our champion and our cheerleader.

But still, we needed more . We needed Hollywood to give us perspective.

That summer, just ten short months after that  awful morning in mid September when our illusions of American impregnability were shattered,  we needed to feel safe.  We needed to feel like there was some way to control the random way violence and fear can infiltrate lives.

Enter Tom Cruise and the notion of Precrime.

(And Steven Spielberg can bring it like no other.)

I  remember sitting in the theatre – smack dab in the center, my popcorn untouched and my Coke flat-lining because I was so taken with Minority Report’s premise and  execution that all I could do was stare at the screen and sink into the story:  Precrime — A way of ensuring that murder is eradicated.  Sounds great.  Sounds… safe.  And yet — not to get all Greek Tragedy on you — there was an inevitable and all-too-human component that could unravel the system.

And unravel it did.  With a banging soundtrack.  And lots and lots of shots of Tom Cruise running.   (Because that’s what he does best. Just saying.)

While the story itself was gripping, and the concept of the Precogs was compelling, I was most enthralled by the opening scene:  I remember being blown away while I watched Tom Cruise manipulating light and space with the wave of his hands.  There was a poignancy to it , a grace I would never expect of him, and I stared open-mouthed as the images whirled like virtual ballerinas.  Tom Cruise was magnificent as he conducted the images in syncopated time while Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony soared in the background.

 

And you know what’s kind of awesome?  Minus the creepy Precogs and the flying cars,  nearly ten years later, this technology is kind of sort of around:

So props to Spielberg for seeing into the future.  And lets hope we can do the same: Despite our fears, I hope we take heed from the way things went down in Minority Report and steer clear of making this dystopian vision of the future our social paradigm.

(*Cough* Patriot Act *Cough*)

Yes, there are very real things to be afraid of – yes, there are monsters who would seek to strike  us while we sleep.  But trying to predict a nebulous future can morph into a self-fulfilling prophecy:  In other words, thinking we know what will happen  can sometimes make it so.

(Yeah, Oprah called.  She wants “The Secret” back.)

And ultimately, as random and chaotic as life can be — and as hard as we try to control our world, and our future, Precrime doesn’t pay.

A year later, Iran Proves that the Gun is Mightier Than the Tweet

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TEHRAN, IRAN - JUNE 17:  Iranian supporters of...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Last year, brave citizens of Iran decided they had enough. After a suspected rigged election, thousands of young Iranians started protesting against the elected government. The movement, called the Green Movement, arranged mass demonstrations, and clashed with security forces.
And while the government controlled the media, it couldn’t control Twitter.
Protesters, Green Movement activists, and ordinary citizens, used Twitter to coordinate protest efforts, and tell the world what the government was trying to hide.
Blogs, magazines, and newspapers, were full of articles about the power of Twitter, and how important it is in such events.

Year later, the green movement is crushed. Iran’s Basig, the ever faithful Republican Guard, crushed the resistance. Demonstrators were shot and killed. Some were jailed and tortured. The first anniversary of the biggest uprise against Ahmadinejad regime ended quietly.

Twitter is an amazing network. I use it every day.
But we should remember that it is just a website, a social network, a communication medium. At the end of the day, Twitter won’t bring democracy to countries under dictatorship. It might prove a film distributor that it is worthwhile to bring the latest horror flick to the theater near you. It could help raise funds for nobel cause.
But at the end, as Iran case proves, the gun is mightier than the Tweet.

Obama – The First Social Media President

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As the results for the American Presidency starting to flow, Barack Obama is the new American President. But before the election started, Obama won in the Internet battle for voters. His YouTube videos got more views than Mccain’s. His Facebook strategy proved to be better than his competitor. His fundraising worked better than Mccain’s federal funding support.

It will be pretentious to say that social media made Obama- there are far greater reasons that he is the new American president. But Obama proved that these tools are legitimate, and that social and political change can be supported and maybe even won, by smart internet strategy – and understanding of how to get the message out to users.

Have a great, inspiring day.