Feel-Good Advertizing and Colonialist Guilt

September 21, 2015 § 1 Comment

Technology companies have developed this annoying habit in advertizing lately.  I think Facebook was the first to do this, but now Microsoft is.  I’m not talking about the insanely pretentious ads Apple produces.  I’m talking about ads made to make white liberals in North America, Western Europe, and Oceania feel better about the world.  These ads show kids in the Developing World, and pretending that they have the same chances as kids in Western Europe and North America, because they have the internet, or Facebook, or Windows 10.

To this, I call bullshit.  Windows 10, like Facebook, is not going to lift a child out of poverty in Africa or Asia.  Nor, for that matter, in an inner-city neighbourhood of New York City or Berlin. Nor on an aboriginal reserve in Canada or the US or Australia.  These ads are simplistic and, well, frankly, stupid.

In order to correct poverty in the developing world (or parts of North America, Western Europe, and Oceania), children need a lot more than Facebook and Microsoft Windows 10.  They need poverty eradication programmes that encourage families to let their kids stay in school.  They need their parents to have an opportunity to succeed.  They need the chance to have good nutrition. They need a chance to go to university.  And that’s just a start.

Certainly, Facebook, Microsoft, and countless other technology companies, including Apple and Google, DO attempt to make a difference in the developing world, Western inner-cities, and even sometimes aboriginal reserves.  But these ads are little more than an attempt to assuage our collective first world guilt for the basic systems of exploitation that ensure that Bangladesh, for example.  Until we think about where our products come from (my MacBook, for example, upon which this blog post/rant is being written, was made in China), and we try to do something about it, nothing will change for all these bright kids in the developing world, no matter how much Facebook and Microsoft wants us to think otherwise.

On the upside, at least, Microsoft acknowledges at the end of the ad that we need to make sure these kids get what they need.  On the downside, the answer is Window 10.

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