Do you ever feel like you are forever behind in movies? Granted, you’re always behind because of all of the movies made before your time – I only recently watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for example. However, every year, when the Oscars come and go, I always tell myself, “Man, next year I’m going to see more movies so that I can, well, care.” It doesn’t work. Case in point – I just watched Avatar last night. And uh, well…I still haven’t seen The Social Network. I know, my family thinks this is ridiculous of me too.
In watching Avatar, a lot of things came to mind. It is a gorgeous thing to look at, no doubt about it. And I’m not even talking about Sam Worthington here. The story, though, was kind of dumb. As a friend of mine pointed out, what movie can get away with calling a priceless mineral unobtainium? Yerg.
But what really stuck in my head is how much Avatar came to remind me of the whole Social Media world. Though I haven’t seen The Social Network, what I’ve heard is that it is really not about the Social Media phenomenon as a whole – it’s a business story. It’s a suspenseful movie loosely tied to reality. Avatar, though, believe it or not, gets to the crux of what Social Media is all about. Here’s how.
“Get them to trust you”
Well, I hardly need to go further, right? Without spoiling too much for those of you who are even later than me in seeing this now, the main character is directed to go amongst the natives on Pandora as an agent of sorts. He needs to get them to trust him, he needs to learn what makes them tick, and he needs to do it without getting killed. Luckily, the stakes aren’t often THAT high in Social Media, but are we not going out into this crazy online world, hoping we can gain trust, hoping we can learn about people in our industry if we’re out here for business? Is this not where words like “genuine” and “authentic” come from?
There are tricks in the trade to gain power
The movie hinges on something the main character figures out. It results in him becoming a hero, and the movie continues on from there. But interestingly, the movie doesn’t have this moment linger on. The character, in narration, says, “I figured that I would try this.”
Often, in Social Media, we find that tweaking a little thing here, going out on a limb a little bit over there, can end up making a huge difference. Figuring out a certain monetary amount that people always seem happy to pay, for example, is a great way to start building your online business. But you never are 100% sure if it’s going to work until you try it, and in Social Media, if you tweak something the wrong way, the results could also be dastardly!
Well, it is called Avatar
The most poignant tie between Avatar and the realm of Social Media, however, is the change that the main character undergoes when he is in his avatar. You see, the main character, in his real life, is in a wheelchair. He isn’t as smart as his PhD brother, who passed away, and therefore he is also often overlooked, or looked at merely as muscle. In the world of Pandora, though, the main character, Jake, is able to run, jump, and accomplish countless other feats. He’s able to gain respect and become the person he always wanted to be.
Is it not the same in the online world?
From my own perspective, the online world has given me a chance to meet people without judgment. I’m 4’5. You might think, “big whoop,” but when you are a little person, people automatically register, “Kid.” If you think that doesn’t hinder first impressions, well, let me tell you – it does. In the online world, people have only my words to judge. If my words are deemed silly, then it’s because of my brain, not because of my physical reality.
Think about Roger Ebert, who spoke at TED yesterday. Cancer has ravaged his body and has left him unable to speak, but in the online world, his life goes on unaffected.
What you choose to do with your avatar is entirely up to you. You can be a twisted double agent if you like. You can use your ability to run to help people out. It’s an open book. Just like in Avatar.
What do you think?
If you’ve seen Avatar, are there other points that seem to tie it to the online world? I’d love to hear your thoughts!