We already live in a world where social media dominates our lives. We are so connected to our digital devices we sometimes forget there are real people attached to the other ends of those devices. One of the fallacies of online relationships, making friends say in message boards or through social media only, is you don’t ever really get to know the person, just the personality. That can be dangerous because people are not always their true selves online. Not just being anonymous, but also distant. They don’t connect with people face to face so they don’t take their feelings into considerations. Nuances like tone, facial expressions, body language, these things do not come across through a cold computer screen. Sure people have learned to pepper their messages with emoji in recent years, but that still doesn’t really convey the true human emotion.
As someone who suffers from severe social anxiety, a trait more and more common among people of my generation and younger, I can tell you that making connections with people is hard enough without having surface level connections we get online. What originally drew me to the internet world was how I could find people with shared interests and discuss things with them without getting to know the people. I became cold, distant, emotionless and people responded in kind. This is how internet trolls are born. At the start they are people like me, outsiders who don’t share in the communal rituals of the various internet communities, instead they waltz in unprepared expecting a casual discussion of comic, games, toys, etc., and are in reality confronted by other ill-prepared social outcasts whose deeply held beliefs stem from years of making “friends” with inanimate objects.
When I first saw a random persons name on a Coke label that said Share a Coke with Susan, my first reaction was who the hell is Susan? She can go to hell I’m not sharing my Coke with her. Upon further examination I realize that I would dig through the coke cans looking for a name that didn’t have some emotional stigma attached to it. There are people I have had dealings with whose very names stir up negative emotions, I sure as hell am not going to pay someone else money to drink a soda with their name on it. Now granted, I personally, am not a huge coke drinker, still the whole practice bothered me. Now I understand why. If I sit down and touch a can of coke with a random persons name on it with a message telling me I am “sharing” this can with said person, it recalls those times of logging into Yahoo chat rooms or internet message boards or discussion groups and pretending the usernames on the other end were real people I had real connections with. Once you start to realize the psychology of how we socialize you start to realize this anti-social digital world we live in doesn’t have room for a physical product invading our privacy and forcing us to connect with people we otherwise might not care about. What it does is makes us grow colder, more apprehensive. Sure it could be seen as a harmless promotion intended to remind the digital generation there are real people in the world outside of our computer screens. But the real question is, did we really need a corporate giant like Coka Cola being the ones to tell us hey get off your damn devices and meet real people in the real world. In a way it’s creepy.
For those who don’t think about these things it’s easy to just dismiss it. The trouble is, not everyone can be comfortable with the social interactions of everyday life. Some of us, especially me, have extreme difficulty socializing, even in the safest environments. It’s not because of anything wrong with us, or society, it’s just the way our brains are wired and there isn’t much we can do about it. Still the less intelligent who don’t take the time to think because thinking hurts their brains, they don’t need to give it a second thought, they can shrug it off or happily grab a random coke with a cheers to whichever random name appears on the bottle or can they picked up. Not me, not ever. I hope Coke drops this ridiculously offensive promotion and returns to a less preachy form of advertising. Sure, soda advertisements often to emphasize the social aspect of drinking soda with a group of friends; as long as they are good looking, highly energetic, athletic types with no discernible flaws that is. I don’t dig into the facade that tv commercials create, it’s a fantasy world I don’t live in. As someone who uses media as a form of escapism, I am okay with the good looking people dominating TV, trust me I am fine with that. What I am not okay with is a company telling me I need to sit and have a drink with a damn stranger I never met, or worse, tempt me to remember people who I would prefer not to think about. Thank you Coke for unleashing probably the worst promotional campaign to the human soul you have ever devised.