When I get to heaven, I hope I get extra credit for my latest attempt to deliver happiness, because I’m pretty sure I just experienced hell on earth. Earlier today I got a call from David Shing, aka Shingy, aka AOL’s Digital Prophet, aka hair, aka insipid jargon on steroids. I made the mistake of inviting Shingy to Zappos HQ a while back. He took that as me saying, “We’re best friends forever.” I only have one regret in life. I’ll let you, dear reader, guess what that might be.
Shingy is more nervous energy than usual. AOL is being purchased by Verizon. Why? I have no idea. Misery loves company, I suppose. Shingy has done his best to put a positive spin on this in the media. A site I will no longer identified by name captured a short interview with the digital prophet.
I am really happy, and I am trying not to smirk so much. And why I am happy is that this will be a game changer on the context of how we can get brands to people and people to brands. It changes the landscape for us and that is very refreshing.
Meanwhile, on the phone, Shingy is freaking out. He’s telling me how Verizon has no room for those who make up titles like “Digital Prophet” and spend 98.9% of their time on the conference circuit. He starts poking around for opportunities at the happiest company on the planet. I try to convince him that his talents would be wasted here but he’s having none of it. He insists he knows about teal and can energize just about any role. Now I’m freaking out. Shingy practically has me hiring him. Before I email him an offer, I come to my senses and mention that Jeffrey always has something brewing in the pot. In fact, he’s working on another Fire phone and, who knows, maybe he could use an insider from one of the biggest cellular carriers in the US. Shingy lets out a shriek that practically breaks my iPhone, if not my eardrum. I tell him I’ll send Jeffrey an email about the opportunity. I figure I’m off the hook. Wishful thinking. Shingy insists I give him Jeffrey’s cell number. I explain that I’ll likely lose my life if I give anyone that number. Shingy then goes on about radical transparency, Wikileaks, teal, Edward Snowden, Burning Man, the internet, blah, blah, blah. He’s clearly filibustering me and I can only take so much. I tell him I’ll send the number only if he promises not to tell Jeffrey how he got it. Shingy promises with his hand on a collectors edition AOL CD and I breathe a sigh of relief, as our call comes to a merciful end.
Not an hour goes by and my phone rings. It’s Jeffrey. I pick it up and can feel the steam coming through my phone. Jeffrey is ranting about how he just lost 45 minutes of his life talking to “some guy who calls himself Shingy.” I feign ignorance but Jeffrey isn’t buying it. He insists that he knows it was me who gave “that maniacal muppet” his cell number. When I can get a word in, I ask why he (Jeffrey) didn’t just hang up. He said he tried, but his prototype Fire phone doesn’t handle phone calls all that well and the “end call” button wouldn’t work. He said he put the phone down on his table and tried to pretend that he’d never heard of a digital prophet.
One of the new features in the Fire phone prototype is a (NSA friendly) call recorder. Jeffrey insisted I be subjected to the “highlights” of Shingy making his pitch to join the orangest of orange companies.
Sound, man, it’ll be very important to us in the future. Imagine wearables everywhere – hyper-gratification. Users will embrace platforms that encourage co-creation. We’ll make Amazon a telepathic brand. Have you synchronized all this yet, man? Trick question – yes. The question isn’t what’s the future of orange at Amazon, the question is what’s the future of purple? Answer, dark purple. Fire phone is in good position. Videos are good. Sound will be very important to us in the future, you know? We’ll use dark internet to lighten the mood. Are you digging it, man?
Jeffrey asks if Shingy is a real person or was he the final creation of the late great Jim Henson. I assure him that Shingy is a 100% real decihuman and continue to deny that I would ever give ANYONE Jeffrey’s mobile number. He’s still not buying it and then forwards me a drawing Shingy sent him. It’s supposedly a bear wearing zebra-print pants and a shirt covered in ones and zeroes.
“The guy has talent,” I try to say with a straight face. Jeffrey goes out of his mind, attempts to end our call, but can’t because the end call button (still) doesn’t work. The next thing I hear is the sound of Jeffrey letting out a guttural scream and plastic exploding into a million pieces. “Jeffrey, hello? Jeffrey?”