Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Frontline's Disappointing 'Generation Like'

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 21, 2014


I’m a huge fan of Frontline but there’s not much that’s new in it’s latest report: “Generation Like.” There’s not even a mention of how corporations are gaming the system of “likes” and it portrays the kids as being oblivious to being used by the corporations  – until the last few minutes of the program when they are shown as savvy manipulators of online media.

It’s essentially a remake of Frontline’s 2001 report: “The Merchants of Cool” updated from MTV, to Facebook and Youtube.

It blankets all “kids” with the same behavior and the same values as those that spend enormous amounts of time trying to be a brand’s best friend. Which is not true at all, there’s plenty of kids who have a healthy hatred of crass corporate manipulation of their interests. 

One takeaway was that the kids they asked, didn’t understand the term “sell-out.” It’s a term very familiar to the generation of Douglas Rushkoff, one of the Frontline reporters. But I’m sure kids have their own saying, such as “media whore” that says the same thing.

As a longtime media watcher, one thing I know for sure — the backlash will come. And the brands that seem to be winning in social media today, won’t be seen in the same light. They’ll be viewed as inauthentic and manipulative by the very same kids that like them today. Kids grow up.

Generation Like | FRONTLINE | PBS

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