It’s been a typical week for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. On Thursday, he casually published a near-6,000-word manifesto outlining his global vision for Facebook in which he quoted Abraham Lincoln. Then he flew to Alabama with his wife, Priscilla Chan, as the two continued to pursue his resolution to visit every state in America. Nothing to see here. Just the normal Silicon Valley pastimes of someone who most definitely doesn’t want to be leader of the free world.
What’s the ideal Alabama vacation for a man who purchased the four surrounding homes in his Palo Alto neighborhood in the name of privacy? Traipsing about with the common folk, of course! Zuckerberg and Chan began their tour by examining shrimping nets with great interest. They mingled with residents affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, and the impacts of low-priced foreign imports. They met some women who make Mardi Gras floats. Seafood was presumably had by all.
There are a few things to note about all of this, aside from the aggressive down-home vibes of his visit. Choosing to go to another Southern state the same week he published an extensive vision of what he thinks the future should look like feels like a public relations move. Not only is Zuckerberg making it known that he has big-picture ideas for humanity, he’s hopping on the momentum of that statement to keep the press’s attention for another entry into his 2017 “Look How Normal and Nice I Am” scrapbook, too.
But the appearance of Chan is probably the most notable part of this photoshoot. Zuckerberg’s wife has been scrupulous in her appearances in promotional company material in the past — most notably on a giant screen during last year’s F8 conference. She later reappeared when the two announced the founding of their joint charity. Her cameo in Alabama could simply mean that she’s really into raw shrimp and shaking the hands of strangers. More realistically, though, her inclusion indicates that establishing her public profile is just as necessary as elevating Zuckerberg’s. It’s not enough for the Facebook CEO to prove that he’s a sensitive human being. He wants to show he’s married to one, too.
Totally unrelated: Spouses are invaluable assets on a presidential campaign trail.