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NO ONE WILL EVER “LIKE” ME: Thoughts on Disembodied Telepresence

50 years ago, Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.” Half a century later, it may be time to shake things up a bit.

NO ONE WILL EVER “LIKE” ME: Thoughts on Disembodied Telepresence

I’m unlikeable because I don’t have Facebook. Technically, people just can’t ”like” me.

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I must confess that it always amuses me to witness the confusion that my absence from the world’s leading “social phenom” causes among my friends, colleagues and acquaintances. After all, as a communications professional, shouldn’t I be preaching by example from this pulpit?

The truth is, I’ve always felt a discomfort about what the Internet can do to people. But I just could not understand where this feeling came from, and what it meant. Then I read “On the Internet,” written by American philosopher Hubert L. Dreyfus.

One of my main takeaways from Dreyfus’ book is the concept of “disembodied telepresence,” in which Dreyfus describes how “the loss of embodied coping in telepresence would lead to the loss of sense of the reality of people and things.” In other words, he suggests that by relying on online experiences, we’re losing our ability to experience the offline — the real world.

From a marketing standpoint, disembodiment blurs and blends the relationship between intentions and actions, merging them under the broad category of “doing” something. The threat, of course, is that you may lose the capability to generate a tangible action in the process, an aberration that UNICEF Sweden has cleverly captured in its great advertising campaign: “Likes don’t save lives.

The consequences of disembodiment, for us communications enthusiasts, are that we may very easily lose sight and grasp of the meaning, the purpose and of our original intent, as we subject ourselves to the technology. As for consumers, they’re left facing a paradox: witnessing the disembodiment of companies — our supposed service and solutions providers — from the tangible world through over-digitalized communications, while they themselves remain fully embodied into the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

There is an interesting opportunity emerging from these consequences: redefining the importance and prominence of sharing. To that effect, Edelman created brandshare™, which offers a new perspective on sharing through the exploration of six unique dimensions. These unique and distinct dimensions aim at consolidating the founding pillars of an audience’s ethos, in order to foster better communication and reciprocity.

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50 years ago, Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.” Half a century later, it may be time to shake things up a bit. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the intricate, elusive relationships between messages and the media, offline or online. Let’s rethink the way we can share, by embodying ourselves within a little more of the common, tangible good.

You don’t have to stop showing yourself on Facebook, you just have to show up differently.

That, I’m quite confident, you’ll like. For real.

Alexis Pinard is a manager, Corporate and Public Affairs for Edelman in Montreal.

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