Andy Warhol on social media

andy warhol on social media

I’ve often wondered what would happen if a great creative mind of the past came into our present world to see how we create and communicate today. Here’s my imagined conversation with Andy Warhol, whose creativity extended to almost every medium of his time. Here is his introduction to Facebook, after being asleep for nearly 25 years …

Me: Welcome to the future Mr. Warhol. That thing in front of you is an iPad and with that you can instantly connect with people from all over the world through Facebook.

Andy: The device is sleek and beautiful. But this Facebook looks stupid. How do you read this? Everything is small and crammed together.  Why would you limit your personal expression to these little boxes?

Me: It does have a terrible interface but I guess it makes up for it in your ability to connect instantly with ideas and people from all over the world.

Andy:  It looks to me like it is mostly cats, jokes, and inane self-help sayings.

Me: Well … true. People like to have fun with this. It’s a good creative outlet.

Andy. I see little creativity here. People keep sharing the same jokes and photos over and over again. I would use this tool to bring people together to discuss new ideas — to find the odd things that make you think. Sort of a creative salon like we had in New York.

Me: Well, the odd things probably don’t make it to your news feed. Only the most popular ideas appear.

Andy: And who is determining what is popular?

Me: Facebook. They edit your newsfeed and only show the items with the most likes and comments.

andy warhol on social media 2Andy: So an unpopular viewpoint is suppressed? New ideas stay buried?

Me: Not always. Sometimes a new idea catches fire and goes viral. In fact, it’s an amazing opportunity for new artists to become known internationally.  Like … umm … Justin Bieber.

Andy: Not exactly a creative revolution, is it? And how does Facebook stay in business?

Me: They collect all of your personal information and create targeted ads for their advertisers.

Andy: And do they give you a share of the money?

Me: No, in return you get to use their service for free.

Andy: So they own your very art, your writing, your photography, and anything you post … and sell this information for their own economic gain?

Me: Yes, that’s it.

Andy: That will never work.  People would never let them do that.  (distracted) Now what’s this thing?

Me: An iPhone. Most people are using this, or something like it, to connect on Facebook.

Andy: This small screen makes the thing even worse, doesn’t it?  How can one expect to create something in a space this small? Do people really use this thing?

Me: Oh yes. Some people spend several hours a day typing into their mobile device and viewing content.

Andy: Fascinating. (lighting a cigarette) It seems inhuman. They do this of their own free will … or is this some kind of … punishment?

Me: Oh this is by their choice.  In fact, it’s common to be using this device even when you are physically with your friends.  Today, this is by far the most popular way to see art, photos, and videos.

Andy: Seriously? On this screen that is smaller than your hand? This is how people see the world? So these digital artists now have to create their greatest works … to be viewed on this little device?

Me: Well, yes. For a lot of creative work today … that’s true.

Andy: So let me get this straight.  The world’s most popular way to communicate is though a company that is collecting all of your most private information and profiting from it. You are being forced to create your content in unreadable little boxes.  The company censors what you see and suppresses everything except the most popular ideas. People are tethered to communication devices that track your movements and your beautiiful art and motion pictures are relegated to a space that fits in the palm of your hand.

This is a nightmare.

I’m almost afraid to ask this question.  Did all of this come about because of a war that happened while I was asleep?  Did the Communists win?

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  • RogierNoort

    Ha.., I love this post… I was expecting some creative mock-up of a Facebook Page.., but this is way better… and when you put it like that.., progress does seem a bit.., restricted.

  • Paul J

    great post Mark ……….. insightful and funny.

  • There was no war and it isn’t communism.

    It is part of a tool that we are still learning how to use.

    For heaven’s sake, don’t show him twitter.

    And don’t worry Andy, Facebook will change – soon I think.

  • Interesting thoughts, for sure. My creative friends say Facebook stimulates their creativity. Yet I can attest that it deadens mine. And I agree with Barry – don’t show him Twitter! Goodness, the thoughts he’d have on that one could be mind bending…then again…what a great painting that could be, heh?

  • RLMAO!!! But I wonder how many of your readers even know who Warhol is (was)? Even if not, you’ve raised some interesting perspectives here.

  • jennwhinnem

    Could you do Walt Whitman next?

  • This is a hoot.

    I wonder what would he say about Pinterest

  • “For heaven’s sake, don’t show him twitter.” — Line of the day : )

  • Hah! “When everyone else is thinking the same, no one else is thinking.” If Gen. Patton saw this we’d all get bitch slapped… Now this is worth the read.

  • Creative ‘dialogue message’ with two of my favorite creative people… with one of them on the mend 😉 Thank you Mark, keep ’em coming!!!

  • Talk about creativity! You rock my friend!

  • “This is how people see the world?”… Bullseye! I feel as if you’re conveying something more cryptic; in our quest to conqur the Internet, the Internet has already conquered us. The tail is wagging the dog now? I will however give credit to two individuals ‘doing social media right’ : The Dalai Lama and The Curiosity Rover.

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  • Mark,

    It’s a funny (and worthwhile) critique of Facebook and some of its absurd dimensions. But it’s not how I would imagine a reaction from Warhol. I think he would find FB hilarious and be all over it. I think he would be fascinated by the intersection between the human and the industrial (machine) components. I think he’d enjoy the irrelevance of the private-turned-public content, especially the endless kitties. I think he would be amused at the way people package themselves into often inane representations, giving far more fame, in their own worlds, than the 15 minutes he envisioned. I think he would have a highly active profile but all the content created in his name would be produced by some offshore labour pool who, ideally, had never heard of him.

    But that’s just my imagined Warhol take. 🙂

  • Awesome. And I am SO HAPPY to see you back in the comment section!

  • Wonder what Andy’s Pinterest board would have looked like? If he liked Amiga computers imagine what he’d be cranking out on the iPad. I think he’d love it, honestly. He’d probably have a photo / silk screen print with multiple photos of Steve Jobs

    Wonder what books he’d be writing? “The New Popism: Beyond Snooki and LOLCats”

  • Patton. Reminds me of the gems Gen. Russel Honore came up with when talking to reporters during Katrina 😉

  • qwantu33

    Very entertaining…my favorite

  • Indeed sir!

  • Ha! Great work Craig!

  • Absolutely hilarious, Mark! I honestly think Andy would say all of these things if he happened to be around today.

  • Mark, this is brilliant! I am such a big fan of viewing our lives from an outside perspective (I forgot what the sociological term for it). It really helps see our culture in a different way and understand what’s going on. We normally get so caught up in every day lives that we fail to realize where we are until we’re preoccupied with the next day. Awesome critique/assessment of Facebook and our technological society.

  • Mark,

    Really enjoyed this. It is so refreshing to look at things from another’s perspective. Great job.

  • Way too funny and I really enjoyed stopping to read your blog. Being over 65 I have definitely have heard of the great Andy Warho. Sometimes when you are older you experience of the greats out there

  • Mason Saunders


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