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‘Ground Control To Major Tom…?’ Social Media As The New Hearing Aid

The second half of the 70s song, Space Oddity, by David Bowie contains some distressing lyrics. It alerts the listener to the fact that Ground Control has lost circuit communications with fictional astronaut, Major Tom. The cut in communications sadly means that the story ends there. Major Tom will be either left to journey alone among the stars and possibly die in space.

Here are these poignant lyrics:

Ground Control to Major Tom 
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong 
Can you hear me, Major Tom? 
Can you hear me, Major Tom? 
Can you hear me, Major Tom? 
Can you hear... 

Am I floating round my tin can 
Far above the Moon 
Planet Earth is blue 
And there's nothing I can do?

1969 Copyright: David Bowie, Album: Man of Words, Man of Music. Mercury Records. All artist rights reserved.

Rock musician, Bowie, likely took his inspiration from the US-Soviet Space Race which ran between the late '50s and mid ‘70s. The war had a huge influence on what humans thought they could achieve beyond the earth’s crust and in terms of innovative space exploration. It was a fight about national sovereignity and represented both symbolic and technological frontiers. The song's relevance was even paid homage to in May this year when Commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, performed the track before he fell back to earth.

Lyrically sparse, the song successfully communicates the brand new feeling of discovering a whole new perspective of the world without losing grasp of reality, until ‘reality’ becomes all but surreal and remote. It’s a song that from the start is heavy on communication responses from both parties. The rapport and connection between them is intrinsic to the success of the project, and is powered by the latest technologies.  

The severed connection interrupts what could have been a wonderful report home; stories of stars, galaxies, black holes, planets and potentially alien encounters. Ground Control could have relayed Major Tom regular messages from his loving wife. In theory the communication could have flourished - but for, one assumes, the grade and data bandwidth of the circuit switches employed.

Thankfully, Space Oddity is an iconic song which still has plenty of appeal in today’s era. It can be downloaded from commercial sites as a ringtone. It’s just as easy to listen to it on many music streaming apps on the latest smartphones and tablets, just like any other music track. The proliferation of social media platforms – thought to be over 500 - over the past decade means that old music find a new home, and conversations can be sparked alive and shared virally within seconds rather than minutes. Social media is typically being harnessed by young consumers, mainstream adopters, businesses and prospects.

Global telecommunications networks and electronics circuitry have come a long way since the Space Race in ensuring that underground and airborne communications are cast-iron and globally robust. The speed and multiplicity of channels through which friends, influencers and customers can be reached through social  media means that there is no reason for there to be intermittent marketing communications with any audience. In the age of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn when social media circuits go down the whole world of followers instantly knows about the gigantic 'fail whale'. And all social media eyeballs is alerted when major news breaks and governments are at risk of being overthrown with instant reactions and realtime reactive campaigns. 

Unlike the conversation between Ground Control and Major Tom there is no echoey delay, no lag in hearing messages, no circuit break, no gap in responses, and no need for pauses for existentialist reflection. Social media is the new international hearing system which powers better, smarter and faster personal, business and customer relationships from the start through to the end of each interaction.

Ground Control only wishes they could have had this highly responsive technology at their fingertips when they were trying to contact their number one customer, Major Tom. Perhaps it could have issued a Tweet globally asking for the right firm to come forward with a skilled technician in order to rectify the problem.

But then again that would mean David Bowie changing his lyrics.

And that would mean changing the face of pop culture forever.

By Laura Abrar

@Laura Abrar  

  • Laura blogs about technology, business, marketing and trends. Laura developed her career in public relations and communications for global leading and challenger technology brands, as well as in digital services for UK SMEs.