I’ve argued against using Facebook on several occasions in these pages. I still don’t use the platform, and have no intention of doing so.
A recent article at Running Iron Report provided a new perspective on what I consider to be the real danger that Facebook represents. I should say, right from the start, that the article covers a lot more than just Facebook, and I don’t agree with all the author’s points. He doesn’t provide links to the sources he cites, and some of them that I looked up for myself are, to put it mildly, not my cup of tea. (I’ve looked up, and added links to, those cited in the excerpt below.) Also, I think many of my readers, and myself, don’t fit the mindless mental meanderings that he identifies in much of American society. Nevertheless, concerning Facebook, I can’t disagree with his perspective.
The author begins by citing a recent interview with Sean Parker, the founding President of Facebook. Here’s the salient excerpt. It’s short, but very important, so please take the time to listen to it.
The article goes on:
At least as revealed in this interview, very little, if any, thought was given to the downstream consequences. The product was made, marketed, and eagerly consumed by billions of users as the next great thing. It also became, in many ways, a replacement for the usual requirement of thinking before speaking, and even the briefest tour of the Facebook landscape reveals a populace steeped in gloom, conspiracy, meme-think, bubble-gum politics, and the utterly inane behavior of endlessly gyrating pop stars. In many cases it is similar to being detained in a kind of uber-sentimental nightmare — a bad jokes, stupid thoughts, and greeting-card ante-chamber to hell.
. . .
For many of us, these quotes from Mr. Parker are not revelations — we’ve suspected as much for some time — but they are admissions of a deliberate strategy aimed at mind control, which should probably be terrifying. It is mortifying that American consumers would line up, willingly and with unrestrained enthusiasm, to indulge in the ease and convenience of a product designed, intentionally, to control their minds.
This is exceptionally true because we don’t, and will never, know to what ends the platform is ultimately being used, or by whom … And it is controlled minds, either by consumerism, religious fundamentalism, or unquestioned belief in the immortal virtues of a growth economy, that are so difficult, and will perhaps eventually prove impossible, to persuade that the voices they hear are actually screams coming up from the bottom of the well.
Jerry Mander (yes, his real name) wrote in The Walling of Awareness [from his book “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television“] that “What we see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel and understand about the world has been processed for us. Our experiences of the world can no longer be called direct, or primary. They are secondary, mediated experiences.” Nowhere is the secondary, mediated experience more apparent than in the world of Facebook, and according to Mr. Parker, it is entirely deliberate.
We have options, and most of them are personal. No single person among us is likely to persuade some 400 million Americans and those billions more across the globe that our addiction to consumerism is ultimately dangerous and counter-productive to independence of thought and action. It becomes something more of a personal commitment. What’s required is a concerted effort to fill in the hollow places we know exist because we can see and feel them, to address the planned obsolescence of our goods — and even our own lives — by making more careful and deliberate choices — by exercising options anchored firmly in family and local community, and to steadfastly refuse to be harried into a political corner by irrelevant party platforms, and the zealots who defend them. The once admirable American political system has devolved into a marketing and consumerist free-for-all, utterly devoid of meaning, a kind of freak show capable only of trotting out the worst possible candidates for public office.
. . .
Jim Dodge, in Living by Life [a version of which may be found in the collection “Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature and Culture“], had this to say:
“We spend more time posturing than we do getting it on. In short, American culture has become increasingly gutless and barren in our lifetimes, and the political system little more than a cover for an economics that ravages the planet and its people for the financial gain of very few. It seems almost a social obligation to explore alternatives. Our much heralded standard of living hasn’t done much for the quality of our daily lives; the glut of commodities, endlessly hurled at us out of the vast commodity spectacle, is just more **** on the windshield … Our only claim to dignity is trying our best to do what we think is right, to put some heart in it, some soul, flower and root. We’re going to fall on our asses a lot, founder on our pettiness and covetousness and sloth, but at least there is the effort, and that’s surely better than being just another quivering piece of the national cultural jello.”
There’s more at the link.
As I said above, I sincerely hope that many of those reading this blog don’t exhibit the “pettiness and covetousness and sloth” that Mr. Dodge, cited above, identifies in US society. Hopefully, most of us think for ourselves – if we didn’t, after all, we wouldn’t be reading (or writing) these pages. Nevertheless, as an indictment of US society in general, particularly in the major urban areas, I find it hard to disagree. The fuss and froth over the election of President Trump, and current efforts in California to impose an ever more moonbattish diktat over the unfortunate people of that state, tend to reinforce that perspective, don’t they?
Facebook is, to my mind, a profoundly disturbing reflection and embodiment of that attitude. What’s more, its cavalier disregard of – if not contempt for – our privacy is something I just can’t stomach. I remain steadfastly opposed to having anything to do with it, or with any similar platform that might one day take its place.