Just a few days before their IPO roadshow is set to kick off, Facebook has released a half-hour long video love letter to would-be investors. We're impressed with its overall look—it's got gentle lighting, soft focus, and lots of feigned sincerity—but we can't help noticing something a little disconcerting about the whole thing. All that gentle lighting, soft focus, and feigned sincerity, can't stop Facebook's leaders from sounding a little creepy.
Mark Zuckerberg, obviously, is the star of this show. He's wearing that same blue-grey Facebook T-shirt he's always wearing and sounding boyish as ever. "I grew up with the Internet," Zuckerberg says. "You know in middle school I used search engines like Google and Yahoo and I just thought they were the most amazing thing. This complete symbol of the age we live in, where now you have access to all of this information. The thing that seemed like it was missing was always just people, right." What follows is a parade of Facebook's most used features, and while we don't gain many fresh insights, it's startling to see the entire concept of Facebook distilled down to a single episode. With the help of COO Sheryl Sandberg and Chris Cox, VP of Product, Zuckerberg sells his site not only for its popularity but also for its capacity to change how the world works. They do not understate this lofty notion.
"We’re now changing within a generation the fabric of how humanity communicates with itself," says Cox at one point. The camera pans out to show how Facebook follows you wherever you go, how frictionless sharing enables Facebook to tell your friends what you're cooking, or tracking your morning run, as if there's no time in your day when you might not want your friends to know what you're up to. As Sandberg points out, the number of Americans looking at Facebook on a given day is equivalent to "the season-finale of American Idol, the most popular show on television, times two." And as we know from the Facebook-funded brainwave study conducted last year, people's brains stay more focused on Facebook than they do other media: It's like an American Idol episode you can't tune away from.
The takeaway, we think, is that you can't live a day on earth without interacting with Facebook. Even if you're not on Facebook yourself, chances are the brands you interact with and the stores you shop in use Facebook in a major way. Getting down to brass tacks, you ought to remember that Facebook's IPO only stands to make the social network's footprint even bigger. Flush with new capital, Facebook will continue to grow and that "fabric of how humanity communicates with itself" will stitch you in one way or another. Is this a bad thing? Well, that depends on what you think of Facebook. Is it an intimidating concept? We sure think so. Can you do anything about it? Probably not. But concentrating on the video's gentle lighting and soft focus soothe your anxieties a little.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.