News of the Week: Facebook, Fake Phones, and Fantasy Island

New buttons on Facebook, the new smartphone that does nothing, and another TV reboot in this week’s pop culture roundup.

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Beyond the Like

dolphfyn / Shutterstock.com
dolphfyn / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes a like just isn’t enough.

Facebook users have been asking for a dislike button for a while now. The company isn’t going to give you that, but they are slowly rolling out several new buttons that might just satisfy your need to comment or everything that your friends post without actually typing anything. According to The Atlantic, the new “reaction” buttons are available in Spain and Ireland and will soon be available in the U.S., though no official date has been announced.

How will the new buttons work? When users click on the like button they’ll have more options to show emotion/reaction: a heart, a sad face, an angry face, and a face with an open mouth which is presumably meant to show shock or awe at something posted. OMG that’s the most amazing dessert I’ve ever seen. Thanks for posting it!

Right now when someone posts sad news, like a death, people often “like” it, which has always struck me as a bit odd. The new sad icon might be seen by many as a way to remedy that, to have an option to show that you’re sad about the negative news posted, but is a little icon with a frowny face a good substitute for, you know, emailing or calling that person?

This is yet another example of how, in 20 years or so, people will no longer communicate with each other using words and phrases. It will all be done by clicking buttons and posting emojis. As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself said in a Facebook Q&A in June, “One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full, rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like. This would be the ultimate communication technology.”

Yikes.

ZERO: The Smartphone That Does Nothing

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

I have a dumb phone. That’s a phone that only makes phone calls or maybe might sends texts too (I don’t even use it, it’s sitting on a table collecting dust). It’s not connected to the Web, its main use is to make phone calls (yes, almost a quaint notion in these texting times). But what if you wanted a phone that didn’t even do that much?

You might like the ZERO, a new product from the people at the appropriately named NoPhone. It’s, well, a rectangular piece of plastic. It’s described as a phone that “allows you to stay connected to the real world.” There are several versions of the phone, including the original NoPhone for $10 and the NoPhone ZERO, which only costs $5 (that doesn’t even have the fake button indentations or a logo). Every phone is guaranteed not to come with any apps, no data overages, and no danger of batteries dying.

Maybe this will catch on. Maybe people will want to use this the way that smokers put candy cigarettes or carrots in their mouths to stop smoking. After all, the original version of the phone raised over $18,000 on Kickstarter last year. This could be the 21st-century version of the Pet Rock.

I’m sure people will still keep these things by their side at the dinner table. You know, just in case they get a text.

And in Still More TV Reboot News …

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

I know that we’ve had a lot of news about remakes of TV shows lately, and I don’t want to turn this into the All TV News column, but this one is worth mentioning. ABC is bringing back the late ’70s and early ’80s drama Fantasy Island (which they already brought back in 1998 with Malcolm McDowell, though no one wants to remember that). But this time there are twists. There’s no island! Instead, it will be a San Francisco corporation that grants clients’ fantasy-related wishes. Also, there’s no Mr. Roarke. This time the leader will be a “brilliant, dynamic, sexy woman,” according to The Hollywood Reporter .

So in the new version, there’s no island, there’s no Mr. Roarke, and the lead character is a woman, and there probably won’t be a small person playing Tattoo, either. Other than that, the new Fantasy Island will be exactly the same.

Internet Killed the Centerfold Star

Now when guys say “I read Playboy for the articles” they won’t be lying.

Playboy has made the decision to stop having nude women in their print magazine. Cory Jones, an editor at the magazine, ran the idea by Hugh Hefner and the 89-year-old founder agreed. There may not be a centerfold, and if there is she won’t be fully nude. It will be more, as The New York Times describes it, “PG-13 … more like the racier sections of Instagram.” The changes will start with the March 2016 issue, introducing part of a major redesign for the magazine that’s been in production since 1953.

As Donald Trump would say, this news is yuuuuuge. This is like McDonald’s deciding to no longer sell burgers. But when you can log on to a million websites any time of day that feature nude women (or so I’ve heard — I haven’t actually had any experience with this myself) why would you walk to the bookstore or newsstand and go through the embarrassing ritual of buying a magazine with nude women in it?

Now the only place that people will be able to see nude women is, well, everywhere else. But maybe this is a good move by the magazine. After all, they really do have some great articles.

Capital One … Cafes?

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

I went into my bank the other day and was struck by how barren it is. There used to be five or six tellers working at once, several people at desks in the back, and a lot of customers in line. It was a real, vibrant hub of activity. Now I’m amazed if there are two tellers working and more than one or two people in line, and I don’t see many people at those desks. I guess everyone’s banking online or at ATMs, and it’s actually a little sad.

But what if you could go into a bank and not only make a deposit or get a loan, you could also get a large caffé mocha with extra whipped cream, sit in a big comfy chair, and get free Wi-Fi? That’s the idea behind new Capital One 360 locations. Right now there are cafe/banks in Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and St. Cloud, Minnesota. Expect more if it catches on. Hey, why not? We have bookstores that also have cafes so this is a natural.

It’s probably only a matter of time before you can go to Starbucks for coffee but also do your laundry.

October Is National Chili Month

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

The temps were in the high 60s earlier this week, but now it looks like the cold weather is going to be locked in for the season, and what better way to celebrate than with a big hearty bowl of chili? You can go with a very simple (but delicious) chili, or maybe one that really gets into the spirit of the season by adding pumpkin and turkey. The New York Times has a special chili section, 25 Great Chili Recipes, including Vegetarian Chili with Winter Vegetables, Texas-Style Chili, and even Chinese Chili.

I want to try this Beer Chocolate Chili recipe because hey, beer and chocolate! If I were on Facebook, a heart icon would go right here.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Thomas Edison dies (October 18, 1931)
The Saturday Evening Post Archives Director Jeff Nilsson reflects on Edison’s solution to copyright theft.

Battle of Yorktown ends (October 19, 1781)
It’s sometimes called the Siege of Yorktown, and it was the last major battle of the American Revolution.

Free Speech Week (October 19–25)
This annual event has a great slogan — Free Speech: The Language of America.

Congress begins investigation into Communists in Hollywood (October 20, 1947)
It’s probably not a coincidence that Free Speech Week coincides with the date this investigation started. And don’t forget Trumbo, a film based on the life of blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo that opens on November 6.

President John F. Kennedy’s televised speech on Cuban Missile Crisis (October 22, 1962)
The speech came after the U.S. found out the Soviet Union had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba.

Johnny Carson born (October 23, 1925)
Original episodes of The Tonight Show will air again on Antenna TV at 11 p.m. starting on January 1.

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Comments

  1. You know Bob, I had some really great comments for you this week. I was nearly finished too, and poof… they were gone. Seems that happens on the one’s I put more work into. So this reboot letter won’t be nearly as good, but reboots/remakes rarely are:

    The ‘reaction’ buttons will delight those living through Facebook, and keep them all the more entrenched in it.

    ZERO looks like it promises to do the opposite for those wanting to wean themselves off this other electronic cigarette.

    The ‘Fantasy Island’ “reboot” may not fare much better than the 1998 attempt, but it will add a brilliant, dynamic, sexy woman that has me somewhat intrigued already, filling the Ricardo Montalban role.

    Whether Playboy’s experiment to drop their dynamic, sexy women (at least nude)succeeds, remains to be seen. I’ve never been embarrassed to buy Playboy over the years, Bob. Subscriptions are more efficient though. I remember one time in 1987 when I went to my mailbox and found I’d received Playboy and The Saturday Evening Post on the same day. Vanna White was on the cover—–of the POST.

    Capital One’s just looking for another way to get what’s in your wallet with this shtick designed to appeal to coffee/caffeine/tech addicts pure and simple, so it’s sure to be a hit.

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