Monday, January 14, 2008

Evil Facebook Will Destroy Nature, Joy, Liberals, Etc., Says The Guardian

The Facebook backlash is underway in earnest, and speaking as someone who's never liked the site very much - although reports of my alleged 'Facebook suicide' in certain Murdoch-owned media properties last year were somewhat exaggerated - I think it's not a moment too soon.

Over the past few months, Facebook has been accused of many things: of causing people to reveal too much information about themselves, for example, with implications for their careers, university prospects and financial security. It's been accused of unlawful invasion of privacy by revealing what people have bought online. It's been accused of plagiarism, in a lawsuit alleging that Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for the site off some bigger boys when he was at Harvard. It has been accused (mainly by me) of making the internet an infinitely duller place, by insisting that people use their real names and only 'socialise' with people they already know.

Facebook has been accused of all these things. But, to my knowledge, it had never been accused of being the cornerstone of a CIA-funded, neo-conservative, libertarian plot to destroy the real world and replace it with a virtual one.

Until I read this article in the Guardian today.

Now, when you see the words 'CIA-funded', 'neo-conservative' and 'plot' in the same place, it's usually in the kind of loony rant that claims that G. W. Bush orchestrated the Sep. 11 attacks, or that Donald Rumsfeld is hiding a load of oil in his back garden until everyone else's runs out and he can TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

But even the wildest conspiracy theories about Bush and his cronies are trivial compared with what Facebook is allegedly up to. Get this:

" his own admission, [Facebook board member Peter] Thiel is trying to destroy the real world, which he also calls "nature", and install a virtual world in its place, and it is in this context that we must view the rise of Facebook."

Crikey. 'Destroy nature', eh? I don't think there's anything casual about the use of the phrase 'the rise of Facebook' there, either. It's meant to call to mind the phrase 'the rise of Fascism'. Facebook isn't a social-networking site, according to the Guardian; it's a giant, ultra-right-wing experiment in mind control, and we're submitting ourselves to it willingly.

If we don't do something about it quick - the journalist suggests reading Keats's Endymion, but don't do that; it will only serve to reinforce Facebook's evil premise that people are only too happy to do whatever they see other people doing - soon the ultra-capitalist libertarians will have lured the entire planet into their virtual world, where Nature doesn't exist, people and their relationships are merely tools to be exploited for material gain, and profit is the only motive.

Sound familiar? I can't decide if it's Brave New World or Bioshock. Either way, it doesn't make Facebook sound very nice, does it? Looks like those of us who stuck with blogging were right all along.


Billy said...

Ooh good spot. I saw this but I'd already done today's post.

I'm looking forward to the Facebook backlash.

James said...

Blogging 1 Facebook 0.

Still not a member of facestalk and not intending to be either.

devolutionary said...

Damn. Just signed up last night (only to get in touch with a friend who fell out of my phone a while back, mind - a bit like when I signed up to friendsreunited to tell a select handful about an old friend who had driven into a tree). Never expected to join a CIA-backed conspiracy. Don't know who's more surprised - them or me.

belladona said...

Facebook = boring. This feeling has been confirmed by the need of almost everyone else I know to get on it at all costs. I feel no need to have any other reason, especially implying it intends some type of global takeover. Every company would like that.

Clair said...

I blog and Facebook. But it's via blogging that I've made loads of meatspace mates, and I use Facebook for a touch of messaging and playing Scrabble with them. Most of me wants to cancel my FB account now, but the Scrabble....

Tim Footman said...

See, I told you. It's like that Safraz Manzoor article you hated so much. Facebook wants to create a world where you can't get a decent curry.

Tim Footman said...

btw, does the presence of this post here mean that the W2-specific blog by your meatspace avatar (is she a simulacrum of you, or v.v.?) has been taken out the back and shot?

patroclus said...

Facebook is just depressing, not least because the so-called 'Super Wall' seems to have led to a huge renaissance of the kind of 'humorous' chain emails and hoax virus alerts that I thought had died out in about 1997. It's like seeing the whole internet being reborn, only this time it's crap, boring and (apparently) controlled by the CIA.

Tim: I stand by what I said about that Sarfraz Mansoor article. I love the internet, the way it gives people a whole load of freedom to meet new people and express themselves creatively and share all that creative stuff with the rest of the world. I just don't like Facebook; it's exploitative and sinister. The other blog is about to be gloriously reborn, once I've finished the 'special research project' I'm currently doing.

Albert said...

I just don't get the Facebook backlash, other than that people are always suspicious of anything popular - mobile phones, MySpace, bacon sandwiches (maybe not bacon sandwiches).
I've just found out about a local gig via Facebook that I wouldn't otherwise be going to, so it's enhancing my 'real' social life today. I've also just sent a message to a friend who moved to Buenos Aires and seen some of his pictures. Without Facebook I'd be losing touch with him, as I don't email much.
Yesterday I re-made contact with a friend who emigrated to New Zealand years ago. How is that a bad thing?
Facebook doesn't force me to publish any information I don't already feel comfortable sharing, or even my 'real' name. My privacy feels far more invaded by the Royal Mail allowing my postman to spam me with endless leaflets or my mobile phone provider emailing me with adverts for phones I don't want.

(With you on the 'super' wall chain videos thing, but again, just don't install it.)

patroclus said...

Albert, you are right, Facebook is a joyful and social thing, but for some reason every time I open it I feel depressed. But I expect that has everything to do with self-loathing and nothing to do with the fact that it's a CIA-funded neocon plot to destroy humanity.

And I haven't installed the Super Wall, but I seem to have to scroll through endless amounts of crap on other people's Super Walls just to get to the Actual Wall, which is the nice bit.

Spinsterella said...


I didn't quite make it all the way through that article what with being a bit dense, but I did take myself off facepack after a week when a friend linked pictures of me on it.

I don't want people knowing what I'm doing. Or looking at pictures of me.

I can't handle this living your private life in public shit.

llewtrah said...

Unless we can be converted into data and fed into cyberspace I doubt the real world is going to be replaced by Facebook!

(I hardly have enough time to keep up with the blogs I read so I'd never have time for Facebook too - I rather like all the meatspace stuff I do!)

Billy said...

The man behind this whole sinister operation was on 60 Minutes and you can watch it here.

It's not very exciting, but there you go.

Annie Rhiannon said...

I had a new Facebook experience yesterday. Saw a guy I was in college with in London posting on the wall of a girl I was in school in Wales with when I was 12. Somehow this made me feel like the world was too small, although I guess London and Wales aren't really that far apart.

Meh, I still prefer blogging.

d. said...

Crikey. I think The Guardian has decided that the only way to readdress the balance of gushing Facebook hype is to pull out the 'CIA-funded neo-con new order' card and wave it about a bit to see if anyone notices. Fun though eh? Every lash needs a backlash I say.

Also, I'm thinking of printing spinsteralla's new slogan "I can't handle this living your private life in public shit." onto matt black stealth overalls so I can extend the sentiment further into meatspace.

patroclus said...

Spin: I don't like it either, mainly because it turns out my private life is terribly dull, and not, as I'd fondly imagined, something of profound social import and deep fascination for everyone.

LLewtrah: Yes, 'destroying the real world and replacing it with a virtual one' is quite an ambitious plan. Even William Gibson and Neal Stephenson didn't conceive of a world where the real world no longer existed. The best fictional example I can think of is The Matrix, where the real world to all intents and purposes doesn't exist. But in The Matrix you could do exciting things like go all bendy and dodge bullets and run up walls and wear fashionable sunglasses, whereas in Facebook you can just look at other people's photos and pretend to pet a picture of an animal. Not quite so cool, eh?

Billy: Thank you for that, I will watch it directly after finishing this bit of spam I'm writing (not this comment).

Annie: I prefer blogging too, although young Albert there had a similar experience not long ago when my brother befriended one of Albert's friends on the same day as I turned out to be going to the same event as Albert's flatmate. But I think this is mainly because Albert is a lynchpin of swinging London society, and therefore knows everyone.

d.: They had to do *something* to counterbalance that gushing full-page profile of Hugh 'whatever you're thinking, I thought of it first' McLeod that they ran on page 3 of the National News section recently. The 'news', apparently, being that McLeod has more friends on Facebook than anyone else in Britain. How is that news, by any stretch of the imagination? Also, I can realy see you in matt black stealth overalls.

miss-cellany said...

That article made chilling, well timed, reading as have been aware that I got 'sucked' in.

I forwarded it to someone did MA thesis about soc nets and got a very vitriolic response. The fact that they also work for Mr Murdoch only added to the impact of what was written.

Then I stumbled across Samuel Butler's thesis about machines becoming conscious. Now I know that Scrabulous looks in the letter bag and hoards all the decent letters, it might be easier to stop...

Albert said...

Eeep! Affirmative action! You go, girl!

hen said...

Fucking scary stuff if you ask me - no doubt there will be a flash of lightening soon and Michael Biehn will turn up in the buff saying "I am from the future - well a possible future. From your point of view - I don't know tech stuff", determined to stop Mark Zuckerberg before it is too late - "If he only understood what he is doing" etc. Unfortunately a blank faced facebook avatar also from the future will thwart him by poking and slapping him and constantly telling him boring crap about itself. "When will it stop poking me" Biehn will say in desperation - "It will never stop poking you." Zuckerberg will reply sinisterly. God help us all.

Sylvia said...

I'm sorry to go off message, but what's happened to LC's blog? why has he gone private? What have I done to offend him?