Facebook and ‘The Man’

The Man

This article from the Guardian seemed to be the most visible thing on the Internet round these parts yesterday: With friends like these… by Tom Hodgkinson

Facebook has 59 million users – and 2 million new ones join each week. But you won’t catch Tom Hodgkinson volunteering his personal information – not now that he knows the politics of the people behind the social networking site

I got sent it a few times by different people. And I read it and and was shocked and outraged.

Forget religion being the opium of the masses, Facebook is the CIA owned crack-cocaine of the masses! We’ve all been duped. It’s a soul-harvesting machine designed to harness the creativity and friendships of the whole world and funnel it for the forces of darkness and oppression.

Or something like that.

Anyway I was all set to shut down my Facebook account and rush to the land of hope, goodness and light, but then I had a couple of thoughts…

  1. I’m almost certain that the boards of most US companies can be shaken-down to find a couple of neo-con sympathisers with links to dark secret societies. Like it or not my friends that’s just the way the machine works. So I figured I shouldn’t be altogether that shocked about it.
  2. There’s nothing that interesting in my life that I’d be worried about the spooks seeing. I’m sure they could analyse my musical tastes and cross-tabulate them with the events that I’ve attended and figure out that I’m probably in the upper quartile of people with a likelihood of having tried recreational drugs at some point in the past.
  3. I should spend more ‘real’ quality time with people. But I know that already. And Facebook isn’t a big time drain for me, I only look at it every now and again, so it’s not replacing or getting in the way of my relationships.

But that’s not to say I wouldn’t advise getting out of Facebook right now if you are:

  1. The kind of person who wears a tin-foil hat, doesn’t own a mobile phone and doesn’t use the internet because all computers have little cameras that are beaming to the base on the dark side of the moon 24/7.
  2. Listing your interests as: political activism, evolutionary fuel-cell development or time travel.
  3. Spending more time looking at/for friends on Facebook than actually being with real people.

So I’m staying in Facebook, in a limited way. For now.

I still don’t like it all that much though.

9 thoughts on “Facebook and ‘The Man’”

  1. You’re right that no-one should really be surprised about this, for sure.

    However, I don’t have anything particular to hide from the Man either, but that doesn’t mean I want Him reading my personal messages.

    I’m also sure that there are indeed secret (or overt) neo-con board members in a lot of other big companies, but I can’t afford to spend all day long tracing them, so I’ll have to work on a visibility basis – in the same way that I don’t go to Shell because of Ken Saro-Wiwa or Esso because of funding issues, but I still go, for example, to certain other petrol stations because I don’t *yet* know about their particular Alaskan conservation-area drilling – and try to avoid directly funding (whether through subscription or advertising) companies about which I *do* know stuff that I don’t like.

    Maybe I’m more of an tin-foil activist than I realise, but I don’t think one has to wear a tin-foil hat or be an obsessive activist in order to take simple, small steps towards avoiding personally furthering the spiralling cycle of shit. If everyone says “ah well, fuck it”, then it most certainly will get fucked, no?

  2. You’re right. Ignoring things isn’t right.

    I guess my point was that Facebook is probably bad, Google is probably bad, Yahoo is probably bad.

    I’m sure I read somewhere that the Internet was part of the military-industrial complex too.

  3. I left about 2 weeks ago, and it feels so good – like mountain air.

  4. “Facebook is probably bad, Google is probably bad, Yahoo is probably bad.”

    Sure, maybe not “evil” but probably not 100% forces for “good”. Still, until I hear or see (what the media allows me to conceive of as) evidence that Google or Yahoo are funded by the CIA and spearheaded by raving neo-con nutters – about which I haven’t even really seen much thus far in the way of rumours – then I’m not as unhappy about using them as I am about having used Facebook.

    Anyway, I’ve got to go and polish my hat – I don’t think it’s been receiving so well this last week or so.

  5. Surely there is no inherent “good” or “evil” – only actions? Although constructing your moral code based on recently reading His Dark Materials is probably not all “good”.

    Realistically, Facebook’s population and the size and reach of google et al exceed that of many countries. In that context, every action will damage someone and benefit someone. This may be deliberate or random, it may have been the intentional consequence or not. But I’m not sure that I buy the thought that there exists a small coterie of people who are so far-sighted and intelligent that they could have forseen what Facebook would become and how they could use it for evil ends.

    If they can, could they set aside some money to buy Liverpool football club and make it dominate the globe? Please?

    Plus, your very own Asi identified that 37% of Facebook apps were used for phatic communication – I can’t see too much threat to future generations by the increased instance of people saying “Yo!” (or what kids say nowadays) to each other?

    And finally, it stuck me as odd that in the original article the writer seemed to imply that having “conservative” values was automatically an indicator of a desperate wish to crush the little people under a jackboot (paraphrasing, obviously). Being conservative (small c) is not an unreasonable/extreme political position to hold. (I’m not advocating it, just sayin’)

  6. But imagine the power of all those Yos! could be harnessed into one big mega Yo!

    Doesn’t bear thinking about ;-)

  7. Even though tom hodgkinson is my absolute literary hero, I didn’t think this article was any good at all.

    Facebook is no more or less evil than the internet itself. Just like any tech, it can be useful and good, or it can sap your humanity and life away, depending on how you use it.

    people seem to be very proud of quitting – I can’t really understand this. This would be like me starting being a casual drinker, then admitting I had an alcohol problem, and quitting cold turkey, and then saying how life was better with zero booze – when in fact, everyone knows that alcohol is actually pretty good, as long as it doesn’t totally ruin your life.

    obviously facebook isn’t as good as booze, but you get my idea.

    anyway that guy tom hodgkinson – wrote this book called how to be idle, which is the best half-religion, half-politics book I ever read. I highly recommend it.

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