MONDAY 21st July 8.30PM ABC1
In the digital world, whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, there’s a truism that’s both uplifting and scary.
“You are what you like.”
Endorse a person or product and you’re saying something about yourself. If in turn people ‘like’ you or the products you endorse, you can enhance your social status, build your self-esteem or – with enough ‘likes’ and followers – create a business.
Thanks to social media, today’s teenagers are able to interact directly with their culture and their heroes, dispensing approval to music, videos, food and clothes, as well as each other. They say that’s empowering because they can deliver a verdict instantly.
Like – dislike. Like a modern day, all-powerful Roman emperor.
But is this empowerment or a new form of slavery? And are teenagers being manipulated by big corporations and the marketing moguls who see social media as the ultimate marketing tool?
What really happens every time you or, more crucially, your children press the ‘like’ button?
This week on Four Corners, a PBS Frontline special report by Douglas Rushkoff (The Merchants of Cool and The Persuaders) examines how the search for identity in teenagers has migrated to the digital world with profound implications for us all. What he reveals is a cat and mouse game played by corporations and young consumers with billions of dollars up for grabs.
The program shows how corporations have co-opted social media into their marketing campaigns for products ranging from chocolate biscuits to movies. It follows the modern stars of Facebook and Twitter, who have parlayed their obsessions with the internet and popular culture into lucrative careers.
We see how ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ are effectively traded between stars seeking bigger and better online profiles.
Do young people think they are being used? Are they taken in by the prospect of achieving their own celebrity? This is a fascinating look at the modern teenager and the corporations that stalk and sell to them.
GENERATION LIKE, reported by Douglas Rushkoff and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 21st July at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 22nd July 11.00am and 11.35pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm and at ABC iview.