Facebook for idlers

Some times even a cynic like me gets carried away with exciting new trends and how certain new trends often get used for reasons the inventor didn't necessarily intend.

So, it's quite refreshing and humbling, to read stuff that helps the re-balancing process.

Such an article is provided in today's Guardian, where Tom Hodgkinson - author of books such as How to be idle and a person who is good at reminding us that the Protestant work ethic may be more about corporations getting us to work harder than a way to get to heaven - gives the people who run Facebook a bit of bashing.

Some of what Hodgkinson has to say is very subjective, but there are some good pointers on how we should be more careful when embracing seemingly benign technology.

A quick summary suggests the following:

"I despise Facebook.

This enormously successful American business describes itself as "a social utility that connects you with the people around you".

But hang on.

Why on God's earth would I need a computer to connect with the people around me?

Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California?

What was wrong with the pub?"

For more details see: With friends like these ...


John said...

Yes - saw that - an interesting article on the rather less than pleasant company board members.

I like the Idler and Tom's stuff a lot, but often feel he's stuck in his own personal perspective (which must be a pretty good one to be stuck in, admittedly). Getting out of the rat race and living the life of the Idler is great for those who have great talent in writing, creating or just ligging. I don't think it's defeatist to say that for the rest of us, that's not always so.

With this, I'm sure the Groucho and his media rolodex provide all the networking Tom needs, so he can't see the point. Some of the rest of us (man - the last time I managed to get down the pub...) find this stuff actually halfway useful - horses for courses. Also, you can't directly equate these friends with your pub friends, so he misses the point a little. Social media is opening up a new circle of friendship - making it possible to sustain and grow looser friendships based on shared interest / profession / history. Not your best/real mates, but people you'd otherwise lose touch, or never meet, with who might be useful / fun to maintain an occasional connection to.

I take Tom's point about Facebook not creating, but owning though. Platform ownership is certainly an issue, as it is with any company monopolising an important web function (be it Facebook, Second Life or Google). When Facebook dies (or at least becomes unfashionable and dormant), will we just switch en-masse to another monopoly provider run by a small bunch of nasty kapitterlists?

Muhammad Deen said...