Buying Local Means Advertising Too, Even In A Pandemic

by Curt Kovener
Irony: (n) a state of affairs or event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects.
Hypocrisy: (n) the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.
When is it irony and when is it hypocrisy? Those of us in local media want to know.
Take the plunge into internet social media, Facebook in particular, and you’re likely to encounter posts from area small businesses you know urging you to “shop locally.”
But here’s the thing: Facebook isn’t local.
It’s a gigantic corporation reaping billions of dollars in revenue by collecting individuals’ personal data and selling it to marketing companies. And when a local small business uses Facebook to advertise —because it’s “free” — it’s not shopping locally.
In fact, it is actively undermining other local small businesses like the newspaper you are reading. We are not a part of a chain, we are not owned by some out-of-state corporation. We are a vintage smalltown Mom & Pop business. We are local. Unlike other area media, we practice what we preach. You won’t find us on Facebook. You can read some of our weekly news at www.crothersvilletimes.com.
Advertising “shop local” on Facebook is akin to flocks of chickens supporting Colonel Sanders or Hobby Lobby encouraging us to “Buy American” (for the uninitiated, Hobby Lobby gets the vast majority of the crafts and trinkets they sell from China…a Communist country to those “Patriotic Americans” reading).
The fundamental fallacy of using social media like Facebook for advertising is the notion that it is “free.”
It is not. It’s just that the transaction doesn’t involve dollars and cents.
It involves data and algorithms and personal information that can be mined and mined and mined. The real costs are hidden, but they are there and they are indeed real.
We would also argue that —an incredibly rich media environment—social media only deliver one tiny piece of the pie.
In the larger context of the internet, cable TV, land-based and satellite radio, and scores of print products, it’s just one sliver.
And, again, it’s not local.
Want to support local businesses? We do too. And we want you to, as well.
But the only way to do that —free of irony or hypocrisy— is to include local media in your support as well. Look through the pages of this newspaper and you will see the local business that truly support a “shop local” philosophy with their advertising dollars. Maybe you don’t have a local business. You can still “shop local” by subscribing.
A small business advertising its services on the mega-corporation Facebook and encouraging you to “shop local”: Is it irony or hypocrisy? You decide.
(Smalltown local newspaperman Jack Ronald contributed to this column)