RANGER AGAINST WAR: War in the Time of Facebook <

Saturday, April 06, 2013

War in the Time of Facebook

 --The New Androids? 

ET, phone home! 
--E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982) 

There's no place like home 
--Wizard of Oz (1939) 

Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night 
 I can see paradise by the dashboard lights 
--Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, Meatloaf 

We shall meet in the place 
where there is no darkness 
--1984, George Orwell

USAToday's Weekend edition happened to have a sickly greenish hue to all of its photos yesterday, but the one of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg fronting the Money section bore a special pall. "Facebook: No place like home" was the homey title of the piece.

"We're calling this Home," said Zuckerberg of a download for "a family of Facebook apps" for the home screen of Android devices. The implication is that this device is a place you live, and a portal through which the world may enter and on which you may interface with them.  But this Home is nowhere.

We feel that if there is such a thing as "evil", its name is "Facebook". Facebook disappears people into dark dungeons lit only by the screen lights. It is a compulsive narcissism which has been imposed upon the users by the imperative to check the updates of their hundred or so friends throughout the day, and to likewise compulsively post the minutiae of their own daily so-called lives. Everything is neat and tidy on the 3 x 5" screen because we have all become editors of our existence, filtering out anything which fails to further the narrative.  But editors do not generate copy, at least not first-person.

Facebook is a Voluntary Servitude. Not only is it a supreme arrogance to imagine anyone cares to follow the timeline of your life, but it is also a supreme idiocy to reveal yourself so publicly to any comers. While Facebook might be a helpful escape for shut-ins or people housed in gulags, it is mainly useful for data mining by government agencies and cat burglars.

Like the students who used to hang non-functioning cell phones from their belt loops to show they were Somebody, today's Facebook slavers suggest that one is a (hopeful) player in the flow of life provided one swears one fealty via compulsive keyboard tapping, and proffer a suggested-though-false paradigm that everyone has a chair at the table of Facebook Home.  It is HOME, after all, and home is where they have to take you, right?

The new Facebook app also lets you "Like" something by double-tapping, or "Chat Head" with a "friend" whose mug pops up in the middle of your other Facebook distractions. Why are adult humans clicking on "thumbs up" icons across the internet?  It is so "middle school" to want to be liked in this way of being approved of.

Run away, while you still can cut the umbilicus.

(Note: If you tossed your AOL or Yahoo! account under the bus in favor of Gmail -- if you hop on the latest technological bus -- you are probably beyond this action. By my Old School homies still have a chance of rejecting the ersatz and finding a real home. If you've tried to rein in your habit, please let us know how that's going for you.  This is not heresy; the revolution WILL be televised, only you won't be there, as you will be watching it at HOME.]

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Blogger FDChief said...

Well, there clearly ARE people that this applies to. And for those people your condemnation is thoroughly appropriate.

But I think that there's another way to think of this social media stuff; as the modern equivalent of the old epistolary friendships that people have maintained ever since the invention of writing.

What is a "Facebook page" other than a sort of running conversation you have with your friends? The digital equivalent of a brief phone call chat or a postcard or a letter? With the difference that you can append a snapshot of your new quilt, or the view from your vacation cabin, or your nephew's birthday party?

So I think that, like everything else, there's a sort of ridiculous endmember of this social mediaizing. And it's that endmember that the people who are making money off it, like Zuckerberg, are going to emphasize. Of COURSE they want people to be obsessed with Facebook and spend hours fiddling with it.

But I think that's just what it is, an outlier, like the sort of people who used to spend hours a day on the phone, or writing letters. For the rest of us it's a couple of minutes conversing with our friends, telling a brief story or two, and then off about our lives.

Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 1:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


You have the right sense of a wholesome use of it, but many do not. I oppose it on a personal basis: I prefer my communication to be one-on-one. If one writes a book (a project of some effort), that is another matter and for public consumption.

For many, FB is a false god, and an altar at which the narcissists may worship.

Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 1:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...


I have to say, I enjoy the ability to check in with my friends in a quick and timely manner. It would take me, literally, hours to write each and every one. I wouldn't have enough time in the day. And by the time I got around to it I probably would have forgotten that funny thing that reminded me of them, or the silly picture I snapped of my kids, or...

Perhaps I don't know the right people; I don't get the sense that the people I know through FB are involved to create a digital version of an I-love-me-wall.

(and your post made me interested enough to go back and count; of the 40-some people I am in contact with on FB 23 are people I know and have met and 13 are people I know through a China Adoption group, leaving a total of 7 - of whom you are one, actually, Lisa - that I "know" only in the digital sense (now there's an interesting adjective; perhaps the polar opposite of "knowing him/her in the biblical sense" - "knowing him/her in the digital sense" only though e-mail, blogging, and FB...))

Anyway, I do agree that there are people who have no sense of balance with this social media stuff. But I suspect that they are the same sort of people who have little balance with, well, everything else...

Monday, April 8, 2013 at 7:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


It sounds like your use of FB is functional. I was just thinking of the people who "live" on it, and are ever-entranced by the latest apps (perhaps the most inane being things like the "Zippo" app -- a static pix of a Zippo (?!?)) You're correct: those have little balance in life, period.

It is a personal bias to have a deeper commo, and I think you and I achieve that in our epistolary relationship, no? Not to sound dismissive of the helpful use of FB -- the quick dissemination of links, photos or ideas. It simply doesn't appeal to me.

Too, I am something of a social hermit, by choice communicating with few people.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 2:28:00 PM GMT-5  

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