That’s Tom Hodgkinson talking, not me. (My feelings about Fakebook aren’t that strong.) Hodgkinson has a long and interesting article in the Technology section of the Guardian Unlimited that sets out his many reasons for reviling the vastly popular — what? — tool, environment, fad?
His points are, roughly:
- It’s unnecessary. Why would you need to connect to people through the mediation of “a bunch of supergeeks in California”?
- It’s isolating. The connection is more imagined than real.
- It perverts true friendship, encouraging lying about oneself and competition as to the number of “friends” one has.
- It’s got incredible mass appeal. If everyone’s doing it, and I mean everyone, then he doesn’t want to.
- It’s an expression of a “particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism.” Capitalism creates the illusion of individuality in order to make money. The owner, Thiel, is a really right wing enthusiast. All of which, I think, comes down to his last point which is…
- It’s profoundly cynical and exploitive. Under a banner of freedom millions of sheep are shovelling personal data into the system that then feeds them back ads (and may do who knows what else with the data).
Read the whole essay, whether you agree with his view or not, because Facebook isn’t going away in a hurry and whether you’re in or not you’re going to need to think about it at some point.