Deb Reich
It's not the people... it's the paradigm.

Facebook began as a meat market (a reminder)

Facebook lately is becoming worthless to ordinary folks, at best – not to mention wickedly invasive.

When I think back, I seem to recall – please correct me if I’m wrong – that FB began around 2004 as the brainchild of some college boys who wanted to be able to post and share photos of female students whom the guys on campus deemed attractive enough to try to… date. (I would say, to try to target, but maybe that’s too harsh?)

They began arguing amongst themselves and someone stole someone else’s software and went ahead and got rich off it – not, perhaps, the guys who did the crucial design and coding in the beginning… So there was some ugly stuff going on with that… lawsuits and whatnot. Is this more or less accurate?

Then FB moved off campus and lots of ordinary people gradually got into it and even some of us boomers reluctantly got on board and found we could stay in touch with friends and family using FB and that was great! Tentatively at first, whole cohorts of analog-enculturated grandparents on several continents made friends with a personal computer. And FB became a global phenomenon. And it migrated to tablets and smartphones. And it kept adding useful features like letting you know when your friends’ birthdays were (my favorite). And reprising your memories with photos from years past: fun (mostly)! And midwifing groups you could embrace. And meanwhile giving you a forum to celebrate the beauty all around us and also to post stuff about injustice and gun violence and climate change and racism and efforts to right wrongs and remediate damage. And providing animal therapy by random video. And so forth.

As time went on, however, FB was clearly marching forward with increasing determination – should I say ruthlessness? – along the capitalist superhighway to maximizing its profit, swallowing up or swatting down other social media, selling our data every which way and manipulating our “user experience” and allowing violent and malicious content and so on and so forth, coopting everything in sight (shopping! garage sales! video! databases!) – all the while tweaking and tweaking for more profit until they got to where we are now: It’s all about the money for FB and hardly at all about us anymore. If it ever was.

This sounds suspiciously like a microcosm of (a) predatory capitalism (is there any other kind?), and (b) many of techworld’s other products. And meanwhile, the real world alternately freezes and burns, and drowns, and the weapons makers seem to own everything and everyone now.

Faugh! Where in tarnation are we going with this? Just wondering. I need coffee.

About the Author
A native New Yorker, by profession a writer, editor, and translator, my passion after nearly forty years in Israel/Palestine is to explore how we might craft a better shared future by discarding the paradigm of enemies – an obsolete social design, now highly toxic. Read more in my book, No More Enemies, available on my website or from online booksellers.
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