You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.
Dear Big Brother,
Hello! I admit that I was rather hoping never to see you so close, so mighty, and so universal. And in all honesty, I must say that I find your pseudonym pathetic. “Facebook” has so little twang to it. No, I am not forgetting that you have managed to garner the support of millions of souls worldwide. You deserve little credit for that. You only grow in power when the rest of the world sleeps. And sleeping we were. You certainly jumped into the game at the psychological moment. You entered a weary, rapidly deteriorating America sometime near the end of the world. The right card to play. You purged yourself of any suspicion by standing under the little black umbrella of “fad.” Everyone thought about wanting to plug in, overlooking the monster they were plugging into. And while we clicked unconsciously, your intelligent little head began manipulating us. The unseen manipulator.
But what I really want to discuss is your latest decision. Am I surprised? No. Distressed? Yes. You announced your new plug-ins and Open Graph protocol, making it sound awfully exciting and innovative. You made it sound nice and useful. So now you own the Internet. We can count on you to use it well, right? You have such a spotless track-record in the security region too. What? Those past few slips which made the security settings advantageous to you and difficult to change? Oh, probably a tiny glitch in the system. No worries. So now you’ll have the most comprehensive database concerning people and their interests. You’ve made an information-sharing deal to help companies target consumers. Good. Because that’s what we all desire deep down inside. To be targeted. We all want to be the deer behind the hunter’s gun. And you want to extend your reach to other sites. Good. Because we want you to be everywhere, Facebook. We wouldn’t know what to do without you. You’ve got so many smart people on your side. So we should just trust them when they say that this is a development that is good for us, shouldn’t we? They say that targeted advertising is good for us, that a trainable Internet that listens and remembers what we like is not to be feared. Should we wonder about who owns the Internet, because whoever it is really owns us these days, doesn’t he? Should we wonder whether it is good that he has so much power and will be getting so much more money out of our pockets? They say your plan is brilliant and unstoppable. That you’re going to catalog the entire web, and remake the Internet. They say you’re tearing down your walls and inviting everyone on the great big web to play on the Facebook playground. Nice… nice and socialist and cheery. They say it makes us ssooo human, innovative, better people. That’s true. Forget helping teach the starving little kid in South America how to read. And definitely forget visiting your grandparents. Instead, log on to Facebook and take a quiz to find out which one of Dante’s circles of hell you belong in. But I’m forgetting myself. People stopped reading Dante years ago. Bottom line is, you tell us you can organize the Internet for us. That’s just fine, because why would we want to do it for ourselves? It’s not as if we know ourselves any better than you know us, right? In fact, it would probably be better if you just arranged our whole lives for us, and told us when to die too. We’d appreciate that, Facebook, it’d take a load off our minds. We’re just too busy to deal with those sort of things anymore. Please take care of us, Big Brother.
Anyhow, with these expansion plans, you are going to build up for yourself the largest company database ever of human intentions and desires. I wasn’t surprised to hear it, Mr. Greedy. But I am very upset. See, I just don’t like invisible systems which manipulate millions of people without them realizing it. I just don’t want an invisible system that will constitute a governing power over the habits, thoughts, opinions, and actions of masses worldwide. And, I must ask, all the power in whose hands? Someone with half a Harvard degree? I’m not even sure. I realize there is little I can do. So please just consider this a mere letter to the editor, Big Brother. But I want you to know. Just for the record, you understand, that I sincerely despise what you are doing.
I concede that the fellow in the picture is a little eerie. But yes, I would wear this shirt in public. At least every other day. If anyone wants to buy it for me, let me know…
“Excuse me but I dont me to be rude. But your saying people who use facebook have a lower intellect and dont read. For your information I am an avid reader and I’ve even tried to write my own books several times. My success does not depend on whether I use facebook or not! Therefore, you shouldn’t group people that actually have lives with people who don’t” – Lucas N.
I appreciate that you took the time to share your concerns. As the president of the AFLI, I welcome constructive criticism as it is my constant aim to improve and perfect this alliance. Perhaps I have too easily fallen into the trap of classifying people. Immature classifications are something I sincerely dislike, so I will certainly take steps to avoiding such categorizing in the future. Yet, what I think you need to realize is that the AFLI promotes itself as anti-Facebook, not anti-people-who-use-Facebook. AFLI members believe that Facebook is a thing to be opposed because it inherently debases the intellect. This is not a judgment on all persons who use Facebook, for we readily acknowledge that many users do not realize the problems the site promotes. We are anti-Facebook, and we believe that the grave problems of Facebook need to be brought to light. A sound but commonly overlooked tool to understanding one of the fundamental problems with Facebook is found in the “pie-principle.” Imagine your day as a pie, any flavor you like. Each activity which claims part of your time gets a slice. Whenever you add a new activity into your day or allow a casual activity to take a bigger slice, the amount of pie remaining for the other claims diminishes. If you add Facebook in, something else goes. When I say that “people don’t read anymore,” I am employing caricature, that is, exaggeration to point out a particular quality of something. One quality of my generation which I find very alarming is the minute number of people who read, and the even tinier number of people who read the Great Books. The fact that reading has disappeared proportionally to the rise of TV, the Internet, etc. is not random. While you can find time for both reading and Facebook, you cannot find time for as much reading if you are on Facebook. You are still losing a portion of your pie by adding in Facebook. What Facebookers universally need to question is whether or not Facebook is enhancing their lives. They need to consider what activities got robbed of their pie slices once Facebook came into the equation. They need to consider how big a chunk of pie Facebook receives, and whether or not the slice is more deserved by some other activity. Of course, none of us are perfect and we do not live in Utopia. But Facebook is a worldwide pie-stealing phenomenon that needs to be put behind bars. In some lives at least. I would hazard to say in most lives. This is just something to chew on, without bringing in ethics, security reasons, or the more drastic effects of Facebook on society. While your success does not merely depend on whether or not you use Facebook, it does depend on how you divide up your life. And of course, we must call into question what we mean by “success.” If you consider success to be achieving your Farmville goal, Facebook will be an asset to you, indeed, perhaps your only means to success. But if you consider success to be leading the good life, spending your time in really worthy pursuits, Facebook may well be a distraction from the high road. I have never seen character growth result from Facebook. A final point, I am fully aware that a number of people on Facebook have a “higher intellect” than I. A few I could name right now, and I am just as certain that the others exist. I am very young, so I try not to be presumptious. Jacques Maritain once wrote, citing Aristotle, that a man can’t write well about ethics until he is at least fifty. I figure that until I can try my hand at ethics I should explore as many spheres of human action as possible. The effects of technology on culture particularly interests me, therefore the founding of the AFLI. In conclusion, I hope this “treatise” has helped to explain more fully what the AFLI tries to do. When someone commented that this site was “sincere, decent, and makes sense,” I took it as a great compliment. It’s what we aim for. Believe me when I say that at the bottom of it all is a spirit of charity, we desire to help others see the toll Facebook is having on individual lives and culture at large. A lofty mission? Yes. But I suppose that’s why I pursue it.
Best wishes Lucas! Keep reading and writing!
S. J. Buckner, President
So Dr. Boli [http://drboli.wordpress.com] is at it again with his sometimes bizarre, sometimes comic, and sometimes delightfully pointed sense of fun. Are the following advertisements from his Celebrated Magazine poking fun at our pretty much illiterate generation? Just maybe.
- “The Blandville Branch Library will offer a one-hour talk entitled “What Is a Book?” on Saturday, May 2, at 1 p.m. The audience will have the opportunity to see and handle several books after the talk.”
- “THE BLANDVILLE BRANCH Library will be having a Giant Book Sale beginning Monday and continuing until all the books are gone. The Library staff have decided that the Library can no longer afford to maintain a collection of books when computer workstations are so expensive.”
- “The Community Television Viewers’ Association will be offering a free workshop all day Tuesday. With the Internet rapidly overtaking television in popularity, we are concerned that the skills required to absorb purely passive entertainment are being lost. Third-generation television viewers will be on hand to teach you the secrets to a rewardingly inert television-viewing experience. “
One reader funnily commented about the last two announcements, ”I fear that you may have inadvertently posted real news in the [above] paragraphs. Please try harder at parody and satire in the future.”
The Bottom Line: People do not read anymore; instead, they spend time on distracting social networking sites like Facebook. This has disastrous effects on personal lives. This will have a disastrous effect on culture at large. If reading continues to decrease and writing to deteriorate, we shall all soon be certifiable barbarians. Which somehow doesn’t appeal to me.
Conversation (and here I mean real, live, face-to-face conversation) is officially a Lost Art. Facebook deserves at least an honorable mention in the subtle slaughter of true conversation. For the record, I loathe (yes, loathe) the modern habit of ignoring the person right next to oneself while texting rapidly, playing an inane game on the phone, or skimming Facebook.
“Without the habit of conversation in homes, schools, and social occasions, the memorable reality of people, the sheer enjoyment of the play of speech, the liveliness of the truth, and the medicine of common sense leave the realm of ordinary experience and become the vestiges of an ancient past, and the whole quality of life becomes reduced to the banal and pathetic.” -The Lost Arts of Modern Civilization, by Mitchell Kalpakgian
The Facebook Warning Label:
Caution! Side effects of this drug WILL include: narcissistic tendencies, sluggishness, loss of tangible relationships, watery eyes, insecurity in the sense that people now know more about you than you could imagine, headaches, a decrease of common sense, an inability to write full sentences with capitalized letters and correct punctuation, loss of time, an incapacity to act in real-world situations and to respond to real live people, split-personality syndrome, and gradual loss of brain cells. Use at your own risk.
<img src=”http://www.weblogcartoons.com/cartoons/i-have-nothing-to-say.gif” alt=”cartoon from http://www.weblogcartoons.com”; />
<p>Cartoon by <a href=”http://www.cartoonchurch.com/blog/”>Dave Walker</a>. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at <a href=”http://www.weblogcartoons.com/”>We Blog Cartoons</a>.</p>
This reminds me of a Roman proverb I read in Latin class a few years back. I believe it went like this:
“There is a time when something should be said. There is a time when nothing should be said. But there is no time when everything should be said.”
Facebook indulges and thrives on people who say way too much.