Monday, October 12, 2009

To paraphrase Thomas More: "Whatever may be done by Texting, you may rely upon me to do."

A young man strolling down a residential neighborhood sees the plaintive plea stapled to a telephone pole-- "Please Help Me Find This Dog." Being a thoughtful, warm-hearted fellow, he does the most helpful thing he can think of- he whips out his cell phone (oh, who are we kidding? He had it in his hand already, of course!) and takes a photo of the sign.

Using the Verizon Network, he then sends the photo to the people in his address book. And now we get to see the photo bouncing from phone to phone- one person after another sees it (one woman shakes her head sadly before passing it along) and sends it along, until pretty much everyone in town has seen it.

The Happy Conclusion to all this texting is that the original Young Man With a Heart gets a text- FOUND THE DOG!! And we see the sad owner's face light up as she arrives home to see Young Man sitting on her front stoop, releasing the dog to run into Now Happy Owner's arms.

Here's my rather obvious observation: At no point in the commercial do we see anyone actually LOOKING FOR THE LOST DOG. Just passing the buck-- err, text message- to other people. The assumption of every single person who receives this text is clearly "someone else will find this dog. I'm doing the only thing I am capable of doing, the only thing I can reasonably be expected to do, by passing along this message."

The dog is "found" because among a group of girls who are petting the dog is one who happens to get the message. Wow, what a logic-bending coincidence: Just as I am petting this strange dog, I get a text message letting me know that it's a LOST dog. What shall I do in response? Well, that's also obvious: Text back, so that the original dog-searcher can come and get it and bring it to it's owner. Because even though I received a photo of the poster, because even though I have the dog in my possession, that doesn't mean I should be the one to actually GET OFF MY ASS AND RETURN THE DOG.

Also- what happens now? Does a wave of "The Dog Has Been Found" texts start circling the planet? Naw, why bother- it's not like anyone was lifting a finger (off their cell phones) to search anyway. Wouldn't this commercial had been more effective if all this texting had resulted in an army of people actually LOOKING FOR THE DOG? Ah, but that would have distracted the viewer from the main message, which seems to be "Verizon allows you to pretend to be a concerned individual while playing with your cell phone. With a few clicks, you've done your good deed for the day. Now get back to playing that stupid new game you just downloaded."


  1. This sort of advertisement raises an important question: what is the morality of selling a product as a means of isolating the user from their fellows? Do they show us some guy calling a loved one or setting up a meeting for some useful purpose? No, they do not; they show people whining about milky minutes and playing silly games.

  2. I couldn't agree more- companies like Verizon don't want to increase "connectivity"- they want us to stay DISconnected, lonely, and more and more dependent on phony "relationships" like the ones found through Facebook and Twitter (if I hear one more student brag about how many "friends" they have on Facebook...). These commercials never show people interacting with human beings, just staring at a stupid screen. Even the games you can add to your phones encourage you to keep your distance from other people- on the rare occasions in which we see people playing a game "together," they never, ever make eye contact. Fast food "restaurants" want to keep us fat (blathering and texting away on your phone instead of participating in sports - wonder how many calories that burns off?), which is just fine for the drug industry, which wants to keep us sick.

    And if you don't buy in to the "social networking," you are a weirdo. Whatever.