Sunday, February 3, 2019

Cracked eggs and the challenging constructs of mind and reality

When I saw this book — 1974's The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Joseph Chilton Pearce — while browsing at The York Emporium yesterday, I immediately thought of last week's article by Taylor Lorenz of The Atlantic, "The World-Record Instagram Egg Is Going to Make Someone Very Rich." We're only a month into the 2019, but Lorenz's piece qualifies as a candidate for the most bizarre story of the year (Non-POTUS Division).

It's the tale of a mysterious Instagram account (world_record_egg) with nearly 10 million followers. Lorenz writes: "Over the past few weeks, the egg has become an internet phenomenon. On January 13, the account’s first post became the most-liked Instagram photo of all time. ... Since then, the account has posted a series of photos of the same egg with a progressively larger crack, suggesting something inside. ... [I]nterest from companies and digital-media planners hasn’t slowed. Because in 2019, every viral moment is a branding opportunity. 'Being the first brand to crack out of the egg is worth at least $10 million,' said Nik Sharma, the head of the digital agency VaynerMedia’s direct-to-consumer business. He added that he would even advise clients 'to spend on the egg instead of the Super Bowl.'"

(That turned out to be a bit prescient.)

My immediate reactions to Lorenz's story, which I admit were geared more toward snarkiness than thoughtfulness, were: (1) On Twitter: "We are going to be utterly incomprehensible to the future. Stuff like this will be our civilization's Nazca Lines." and (2) On Facebook: "I Don't Understand The World Any More, Chapter 20."

But I do understand it, of course. At least as well as it can be understood.

It's still all about the marketing. The selling of viewership and eyeballs. The money. Selling stuff. And Instagram offers one of the hottest demographics. It's as hot as newspapers are cold, in terms of desirability for advertising, which is one of the reasons we're still seeing companies eliminate journalists left and right.

This is also a story about the digital frontier. It's hard to keep up with how much some social media platforms and apps have become foundational elements of people's everyday lives. Lorenz does a good job of covering that at The Atlantic. She also wrote about "The Teens Who Rack Up Thousands of Followers by Posting the Same Photo Every Day." And I agree with Rachel Donadio, who tweeted: "If you were born before 1989 and struggle to understand anything about the world and the digital landscape in which you apparently live and work, I suggest you always read @TaylorLorenz. Same if you were born after 1989."

As for the egg, it appears that we'll learn more today, in conjunction with Tom Brady Bowl LIII. The latest post by the egg, which came after Lorenz's article, added football laces to the egg and states: "The wait is over. All will be revealed this Sunday following the Super Bowl. Watch it first, only on @hulu. #EggGang #WeGotThis #TalkingEgg"

Obviously, Hulu paid a shell of a lot of money for that.

I'll stick with the old books and ephemera. This The Crack in the Cosmic Egg book by Pearce looks way more interesting than anything that might be on Hulu. I'll delve into it further this week. I can also tell you there was something tucked away inside.

Stay tuned to Papergreat! #EphemeraGang #TalkingPaper #TalkingBooks

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