Drawing the Line

Twitter is cool. Technology being integrated into a person's life will often lead to some interesting situations, but I wouldn't say I'm such a luddite that I hate Twitter.

This, however, is where I draw the line:

DALLAS – Children's Medical Center in Dallas will provide live Twitter updates from its operating room Monday, while 3-year-old John Gilbreath receives a kidney transplant from his father.
...
'Currently, nearly 85,000 people are on the waiting list for a kidney. We hope that twittering from this surgery will help raise awareness for organ donation, as well as living organ donation.'

Social networking has become networked advertising. Twitter is the stuff of a PR manager's wet dream; imagine, millions of people signing up to receive your latest ad campaign automatically! What's creepy about this case is that it's for a surgery in a hospital--we've turned the misfortune of liver failure into spectacle, and then commodified it.
Now, to be fair, this commodification is no different ethically than what's been done with "reality" TV shows for the last decade. The difference is in the technology: Twitter is claimed to be a form of interactive media.

We're apparently quite adept as a society at using "media" as barriers rather than conduits. We turned the window into a pane of glass; we turned the prayer into a public speech; we made a message into a "post;" now we've made waiting for the outcome of a surgery into a P.R. Opportunity.

1 comment:

Michael said...

This is terrible. And your points about media as barriers is spot on.