Huh, never thought of it that way!
I felt the need to post something about my thoughts on my Friday lecture. It really was quite a lecture, leaving me with a totally different and albeit a much more skeptical view of Facebook.
I can honestly, hand-on-heart say that I overlooked the ‘cons’ of Facebook (and social media in general); I championed their ability to connect and provide opportunities to those with something to say. I never put too much thought into the issues of privacy regulations and why Facebook is ‘too good to be true’ without the catch, well it turns out there is a huge catch, we just never saw it that way.
So my lecturer breaks the ice with a few wise jokes about MySpace and Twitter, and Facebook stalkers, then before we knew it we were exploring the properties of ‘Weightless Capitalism’. What is Weightless Capitalism I hear you ask, well it’s pretty simple: The ultimate goal of Capitalism is to make as much money as possible whilst costing as little as possible, to become ‘weightless’ as it were.
Well Facebook has got as close to this as anyone will ever really get. To reduce production costs Capitalists increase labor hours, decrease wages and cheapen the produce through standardization and mass production. These paradigms alter themselves when you apply them to the idea of new media; in a world where the consumer is also the producer of every field (one who is an amateur but often operates on a professional level), and the products are ‘transparent’, in the sense that we will take a product, use it and rather than keep it we put it back on the shopping shelf (like listening to music on YouTube). Facebook provides us with a ‘one size fits all’ slate, in which we spend countless hours filling with our lives. That’s one huge source of customer information; our likes and dislikes, our ages, education and where we live (and more!), Facebook can then sell this almost freely harvested information to governments and corporations and make a ridiculously huge profit: Because they don’t need market research or napalm sales it is very profitable to do, they made something in the area of $7 billion last year. Weightless Capitalism, the fat cat’s wet dream is a reality, and you may protest calling it a ‘privacy outrage!’, but you signed up to this without reading the terms and conditions, a free but publicly observed platform sounded like a good enough deal at the time (we really should have asked for a wage, seeing that we all work for Zuckeberg 24/7 in a way).
One in 8 of us uses Facebook, you have to wonder what is being done with all this information besides advertising… We are the ‘dead workforce,’ a zombified people with eyes glued to screens and hands tapping away on keyboards, all serving Zuckerberg, totally duped into it and not even realising we have lost out! The worst of it all is that we accept and even champion Facebook and it’s creator for selling us to third parties, whilst the likes of Julian Assange (or anyone else like him) is demonized, and literally ganged up on by the media and the new media (us as producers) for uncovering hidden information and encouraging independent thought. This worries me, we truly have been institutionalized by a new social order.
Of course there are the pros of social media that we must not forget, but it is definitely worth noting that the cyber utopias aren’t as perfect as they seem to be. I feel inspired to talk more about my skepticism fueled findings, so expect a few more cynical rants now and again. Until then, have a good look at your Facebook page, and see for yourself how much personal information have you provided, and therefore freely given away.