• POST AND PLAY

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    BMW20130806

    A flock of BMW X1s looks right at home at posh country club grounds. Below, activities which BMW said are typical to X1 owners.

    It’s a ‘connected’ world out there, BMW proposes, and the best car for such a lifestyle is its upgraded X1 crossover
    IF journalism is history in a hurry, social media raises the pace at which events are recorded and transmitted to scorching. In this digital space where words (or a group of characters resembling them, at least), images and sounds may not always be actual information but merely content, the interaction—if not narcissism—that takes place may well be cave drawings, smoke signals, even good old-fashioned slide shows rendered in binary.

    Selfie, anyone?

    Citing statistics showing not only to the rising number of people who indulge in the social media but also to the increasingly younger set already versed in it, the distributor of BMW in the Philippines, Asian Carmakers Corp. (ACC), thought it best to point out the BMW X1’s techie stuff by means of activities using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, among others. Through this, the latest X1 is propped up as “plaything,” an extension of—even a connected device to—the digital lifestyle embraced by people who, well, lavish themselves with selfies.

    Regardless of motive, people being able to instantaneously chronicle the present—including the banal, juvenile and inconsequential things (one’s salad during lunch, for instance)—is the acknowledged or apparent intent in using most social media platforms. This is helped in large part by the ease with which the material can be uploaded. Inversely, other people can instantly “consume” this material while at the same time generating their own. Interaction takes place—if opted for—and so does the stockpiling of huge amounts of personal, or arguably even personalized, data.

    One of the upgraded X1’s new features, BMW’s Connected Drive that’s also found in the carmaker’s other models, promises on-the-go access to much of the consumption and generation of such data. Housed within the car’s dashboard and whose functions can be monitored on an 8.8-inch LCD panel, the system hooks up to smartphones to allow for calls, text-messaging, e-mails and web browsing—all of which can be controlled via voice commands. It also has audio streaming through Bluetooth, as well as Bluetooth Office.

    To stress the X1’s connectivity (and thus appeal to the selfie/foodie pic crowd), ACC arranged several activities meant to show how social media plays a role—quite huge, if we are to go by the company’s enthusiasm—in the daily lives of the typical X1 owner. The activities proposed by ACC stay true to social media tradition; taking photos of one’s meal, announcing one’s whereabouts, listing one’s preferred music—all basically a means of recording personal moments as they transpire. Along with these digital doings, also pitched by ACC as typical to X1 owners’ lifestyle are the memberships to posh country clubs and the upscale hobbies that go with these, full-course meals and some serious retail action.

    Obviously, these indulgences only—for lack of a better term—“enhance” the personal data that one can post in the social media. So-called poverty porn, while proven to be commercially and critically lucrative in filmmaking, has yet to become appealing on Facebook—if ever it will become at all.

    By most indications, people’s participation in the social media is largely driven by the desire to promote the lifestyle they lead. Of course, such is not always the case as the various social media have shown these can serve as effective marketing tools and a genuine information portal. But, whatever the intent, economic reasons determine to varying extents not only people’s access and use of information—known as the digital divide—available on social media but also the “quality” (again, for lack of a better term) of the content that goes on, say, one’s Facebook page. The well-off will certainly have the advantage of posting more fabulous meals or vacations, for instance, and can do so at a greater frequency at that. True, some professions—like automotive journalism—get access to such a lifestyle without necessarily having to pay for it, and the X1 event was designed by ACC exactly for that purpose: Let the journalists’ encounter with the X1 and the lifestyle it represents be experiential, then enjoin them to post this on the social media.

    Because the inequality that arises from the digital divide is traced to economic reasons, it can be argued that the situation is basically a form of social divide. Now car ownership, again to varying extents depending on factors like geography or consumers’ purchasing power in that particular place, defines social classes. Inherently, premium cars like the X1, which boast of the latest technologies (besides those designed for digital lifestyles) in terms of safety systems, environmental concerns and driving dynamics, as well as top-notch materials both in the cabin and on their bodywork, command correspondingly premium price tags. This further defines the social class to which their buyers belong, separating those who simply aspire for such things. Which means that, just like on Facebook, the well-off get the advantage of flaunting more fabulous things.

    But where the existence of an excellent car like the X1 is concrete (analog, if you will) and can lead to fabulous postings, the digital nature of social media makes it less eternal. The abovementioned ease at which content can be uploaded to various sites also means equal ease at updating, manipulating, revising or plain deleting this. Megapixels are, after all, malleable, putting in doubt the “chronicling” intent purported on some social media platforms—especially so when it comes to one’s personal data.

    True or not, guess history, whether of the in-the-hurry sort or otherwise, will be the judge. In the meantime, one can always selfie.

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