It’s About Me
New Social Media, It’s In Your Face
BY DAVID LEWIS
Facebook stock hit the market recently, giving the general public a chance to participate in the success (or failure) of a phenomenal company. At about the same time, half the people polled by AP/CNBC called the internet sensation a passing fad. With lower revenue forecasts, the stock then tanked in its first several days on the market.
All the while, the success or failure of Facebook is hugely important to the state of California. This “passing fad” consists of 900 million users worldwide (3 times the population of the United Sates) and the company was expected to generate $2 billion in state tax revenues through 2013, according to the Califor-nia state legislature, which salivated prematurely over the extra loot it stood to collect as a result of the stock offering and Facebook related revenues. That loot, depen-ding on Facebook’s profit, would put a dent in California’s embarrassingly large $16 billion budget deficit, provided the legislature didn’t simply spend the money (instead of paying down debt) and Facebook doesn’t relocate someplace else where they’d get a better deal on taxes—which is to say anywhere but California.
The government of California, then, is dependent on outfits like Facebook and all the other bad corporations that fund its largesse, extensive social programs, hugely expensive public payroll and pension benefits, and so on. The Golden State has already lost out on the mega-profitable Apple, a huge but agile company that has removed itself from the clutches of California taxation in favor of better deals in other states—driven out, basically, by a greedy political class and its clamoring dependents.
Montana also has a huge budget deficit. No, you say, the state is constitutionally required to balance its budget? Well, here’s some news for you Stevie Wonder, the state of Montana is seriously in the red ($3.4 billion) as a result of generous pension benefits for state workers (a problem that dwarfs California’s deficit on a per capita basis), a huge off-budget sum that Helena prefers to keep from the public’s prying eyes, those who will be forced to fork over the cash to pay for it.
So, here’s an idea. Facebook could move to Montana. We could significantly lower their taxes (you’d think Mark Zuckerberg would have figured that out) and by so doing generate billions to fund the early retirements and lives of leisure government workers in the Treasure State so deserve, or, rather, that politicians gave them instead of insisting they receive compensation commensur-ate with that of ordinary Montanans who pay the taxes that fund public retirements.
Attracting Facebook to Montana though would be a long shot (with no corporate income taxes, Nevada and South Dakota offer far better deals, as do Ireland and many other countries when comparing federal tax rates), and unlike California we have long winters (with no surfing). So, plan B is in order, and here’s how that might look.
Start up a facebook competitor right here in Montana, basically a facebook knock-off but with a few twists to attract many of Facebook’s nearly one billion users (Facebook, like MySpace, may indeed be a fad, but one that can pull in megabucks before the fad fades). This new Montana-based internet sensation would offer a service and an appeal similar to Facebook, one that would be clearly telegraphed by its name, ItsAboutMe.com, but with several attractive features not available on Facebook, and perhaps some prohibitions (no posts about the Reuben you had for lunch, for example).
ItsAboutMe’s signature feature will be that your entire personal web page consists of an image of your face. That’s right, your mug will fill the entire computer screen, and that of anyone who logs onto your page—all of your so-called friends.
Using an already tried and true marketing principle (it works for hair loss and wrinkle removal products), Its AboutMe will appeal to the self-indulgence and vanity of its users, like Facebook, but will be more in your face about it (alternate URL: InYour Face.com).
The user’s facial image, what’s more, can be changed with a simple click for a new and improved reflection of oneself, snapping a new shot everyday with the camera installed on most computers these days, or from your iPhone, or whatever new gizmo Apple invents, so that over time you could set those images in motion, over a period of years perhaps, showing a progression that reveals how your appearance has “evolved.” It would be great for fast growing kids, but, ironically, a bad joke on those who age poorly, so a special photoshop feature can be added to smooth out lines and wrinkles and add a youthful glow.
The image of your face would also be a road map of your experiences, a collection of clickable moments—using moles, blemishes, beauty marks, pores, or what have you, linked to events in your life (remember the shiner you got in that bar fight on spring break—what a night). This feature would function like Google Earth, not across the face of the globe though, but across your face, where clicking on a point opens a pop up with a photo and descriptive caption (we’ll call the caption a twit), one of you landing that lunker on the Yellowstone (tip of your nose), a photo from the day you finally graduated high school (mid forehead), a promotion at work (cheekbone), the day you got married (taking it on the chin), and a shot of you losing badly in Vegas (stiff upper lip).
ItsAboutMe would be then the ultimate anthem to yourself, to your face, and to all the events, milestones and minutia of your life that you care about and for some reason believe others care about too (as with Facebook). And when your face runneth over with milestones and minutia, like a bad complexion, you simply click your mouse and insert an updated mugshot, starting a new chapter, called a facelift.
Your own personal database then instantly creates and stores the progression of your life (and skin quality), a digital diary complete with images, text and markers that preserve for posterity a record of your existence, such as it may be, in this crazy new digital world.
If that’s not a buhzillion dollar idea, what is? (Hereby registered as intellectual property). And it would surely make the founder super rich.
Wait a minute, was that the wrong thing to say, that the top man and his people would make reams of money and thereby become one percenters? Hope not, because those are the guys who generate all the tax revenues and jobs that the rest of you depend on, the guys who could save California, or Montana, unless they move to Ireland. It’s a simple fact, and before you started reading this, the founder was a 99 percenter just like you, yet now for some reason he’s persona non grata. What’s up with that—a personal problem?
Actually, with any luck, the best part of this deal would be that as we look at ourselves daily, as if in a mirror, we might take stock and soul search, assess life, maybe evolve into better human beings (yet this treatise is meant to be satirical, not a sincere wish for humanity and the millions who might benefit from Its AboutMe.com. We’ll wish anyway).
Back to satire—the idea is now out there, and hereby registered (as are all similar and related concepts, derivatives and facsimiles in accor-dance with Montana Code Annotated, the Uniform Commercial Code, the Law of Moses, Jurisprudence, English Common Law, and of course Jude Law). All that’s needed now is the financing to get this thing up and running. And to tell you the truth, I’ve about forgotten the original reason for doing it, helping to pay down public debt. Montana’s public retirees will get their pensions and benefits anyway, no matter what, because Helena will make us pick up the tab, targeting especially those with brilliant ideas and guts who pay the piper and get on with their lives, moving on to the next level, perhaps out of state or off shore, depending on taxes, weather, and recreational opportunities.
Some final messages here. One is that people who have inspiration, courage and initiative prosper (even when starting a conventional enter-prise like, say, a restaurant), and by so doing offer opportunities to others (win-win). They can also fail, losing their shirts. It’s heartbreaking but happens all the time. So, we owe much to these people just for trying, those who deal with more stress and worry (and potential fulfillment) than most imagine. We should support them instead of looking at them as objects of envy or sources of plunder and then stealing what they leave for their children when they die. If they succeed, they create wealth where there was none, jobs where there was job loss, and hope where there was despair, exactly what we need right now, putting resources in the pockets of families, communities, retirees, waiters, electricians, plumbers, those who use social programs, maintain parks, build highways, and on and on (and it comes from nowhere else). That means you, Jackson. Yet they are regarded by some (no, by many) as less than exemplary—strange logic.
Many of you though may not see it this way, preferring to vilify go-getters, and that’s why ItsAboutMe has such potential (as remedial therapy). It can build self-esteem, turn vanity to introspection, envy to initiative, help you find your inner Steve Jobs, or any job. You could do some soul searching (we all need that). After a while, when successful, or at least out of mom’s basement and into your own garage, you will have no time for piddling on your computer because you will have inventions to create, start ups to start, hires to hire, or a better job and a lot of work to do. Congratulations. It is about you, and what you have to offer.