I had a minor spat with someone (two people actually, on the same day) about Facebook. I loathe the bloody thing… Not because I object to people communicating, or because I’m a killjoy. And it’s not because I hate computers (I don’t, otherwise why would I use a blog?)
No. What I despise is the way Facebucket has inveigled its way into popular culture. People talk about it in public as though it’s a cure for cancer, or a peak human achievement. I don’t think it connects people either: I actually see it as a profound form of social disconnection.
But oh and woe! If you dare to suggest it’s a popularist fad started by an over-hyped far right geekoid you will be verbally assaulted. Yelled at even. I don’t like that, but I find it hard to button my lip where this is concerned.
Saying, ‘Facebook is crap!’ attracts some serious snorts from its many apologists. Here’s a selection of snortoids:
‘It’s a very valuable tool.’ (A tool?! Like a spanner or a rock? I think not. Tools are used to make things, but Facebook will more than likely make you stay at home and develop a fatter arse, or encourage you to tap away on your Crackberry in public like a demented woodpecker.)
‘It’s quicker than writing a letter.’ (Eating a pot noodle is quicker than cooking dinner, but you wouldn’t want to live on it. Ah, there’s the rub. It’s about speed isn’t it? You can’t be bothered to communicate with people if it actually interrupts your important schedule. Sounds like a great recipe for friendship).
‘It keeps me in touch with my friends!’ (I suppose it does. And Just all these friends are on Facebook too aren’t they? If – like me – you won’t use it, then I can’t be your friend. I’m simply not worthy. Well hey! I’ll walk around with a sign on my back saying ‘Kick the Luddite’ from now on.
Such comments suggest that software must act as an intermediary between people, and that no other form of initial contact is possible. You have but one friendship group, and just one channel to connect you all. ‘One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them…’ Does this remind you of anything, Gollum?
It’s as though someone has added something to the world’s water supply to switch off peoples’ critical faculties. I’m pretty sure that a fair wadge of academics use Farcebook, so do students, rocket scientists and prize turnip growers. All are individuals with different cultural beliefs and assumptions. And many of them are probably on Facebook…
…or are they? A high percentage of the world’s population (roughly 1.5 billion people) doesn’t even have electricity , let alone an Internet connection. Facebook is therefore an artifact of developed nations where people are more comfortable with anonymity.
Highly developed societies have some serious social problems to contend with. Overwork, exploitation, lack of ‘me time’ for individuals. Facebook is an apparent solution to all this, offering a quick fix. Like a pot noodle.
Instead of writing to people, visiting them or (here’s a revolutionary idea) getting to know them in person – we have a ‘software solution’, cooked up by someone who is (ironically) celebrated as a socially adept luminary. Well, my thesis is that he’s a pillock, but I bet his missus loves him.
Who would have thought it? Years ago I imagined that by 2011 we would have moved on a bit as a species. Instead we seem to be shifting towards a more dictatorial culture where it’s unusual to not do certain things. Like use Facebook. It’s a zombie apocalypse, and I wish everyone would get wise to it.