About Facebook

Mike Loukides, 2011:

Let’s go back to music: It is meaningful if I tell you that I really like the avant-garde music by Olivier Messiaen. It’s also meaningful to confess that I sometimes relax by listening to Pink Floyd. But if this kind of communication is replaced by a constant pipeline of what’s queued up in Spotify, it all becomes meaningless. There’s no “sharing” at all. Frictionless sharing isn’t better sharing; it’s the absence of sharing. There’s something about the friction, the need to work, the one-on-one contact, that makes the sharing real, not just some cyber phenomenon. If you want to tell me what you listen to, I care. But if it’s just a feed in some social application that’s constantly updated without your volition, why do I care? It’s just another form of spam, particularly if I’m also receiving thousands of updates every day from hundreds of other friends.

Theodor Adorno, 1951:

If time is money, it seems moral to save time, above all one’s own, and such parsimony is excused by consideration for others. One is straightforward. Every sheath interposed between men in their transactions is felt as a disturbance to the functioning of the apparatus, in which they are not only objectively incorporated but with which they proudly identify themselves. That, instead of raising their hats, they greet each other with the hallos of indifference, that, instead of letters, they send each other inter-office communications without address or signature, are random symptoms of a sickness of contact. Estrangement shows itself precisely in the elimination of distance between people.

The programmers of the commercial web have always seen their goal as the elimination of distance and friction from transactions, and that objective has, not surprisingly, come to shape online social networks. But, when carried too far, the minimization of transaction costs in personal relations ends up having the effect of reducing those relationships to mere transactions. Intimacy without distance is not intimacy, and sharing without friction is not sharing. Qualities of tenderness become, in the end, forms of commerce. “The straight line,” Adorno went on to say, as if he were explaining, sixty years before the fact, Facebook’s social graph, “is now regarded as the shortest distance between two people, as if they were points.”

4 thoughts on “About Facebook

  1. Scott Holloway

    I am reminded of my reaction to a flier in the mail a few days ago. It was an advertisement from a large, national department store addressed to my wife, proclaiming her as an “INSIDER” at the store, as if she had special privileges there. I instantly thought, “Yeah, she and all the tens of thousands of ‘INSIDERS’ around the nation.”

    Individuals’ music, food, house, car, pet, or whatever type of preferences getting sprayed across the internet to tens or hundreds of people instantly renders it meaningless, insincere, and impersonal.

  2. an691

    “It was Locke of whom Schelling was entitled to say, “Je méprise Locke” [I despise Locke]. In the struggle with the English mechanistic dumbing down of the world, Hegel and Schopenhauer (along with Goethe) were unanimous—both of these hostile fraternal geniuses in philosophy, who moved away from each other towards opposite poles of the German spirit and in the process wronged each other, as only brothers can.* What’s lacking in England, and what has always been missing, that’s something that semi-actor and rhetorician Carlyle understood well enough, the tasteless muddle-headed Carlyle, who tried to conceal under his passionate grimaces what he understood about himself, that is, what was lacking in Carlyle—a real power of spirituality, a real profundity of spiritual insight, in short, philosophy.”


  3. Dirk Johan Klanker

    Your astuteness never ceases to amaze me. Although I do agree with Mister Carrington’s suggestion that the stupidity of this application in its current form auto-corrects itself. If you see Facebook as a way of me-commerce, you can learn (again) how horrifficly bad people are at promoting themselves and their tastes. Don’t ONLY blame the programmers. Blame the programmed too, who are in their turn programmers themselves, in the sense they want to program/imbue other people with their taste. And are totally inept at it.

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