Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are You More Than The Sum of Your Parts?

In a previous post I mentioned that I am not on Facebook.  I also mentioned that I try to avoid discussing why I'm not on Facebook, because it makes me sound like a disgruntled sober alcoholic.  

Today one of my good friends sent me a very insightful article entitled "Generation Why" by Zadie Smith.  It's lengthy, so here are some highlights for those of you are dying to get back to Facebook:

-We know the consequences of this instinctively; we feel them. We know that having two thousand Facebook friends is not what it looks like. We know that we are using the software to behave in a certain, superficial way toward others. We know what we are doing “in” the software. But do we know, are we alert to, what the software is doing to us? Is it possible that what is communicated between people online “eventually becomes their truth”? 

-Different software embeds different philosophies, and these philosophies, as they become ubiquitous, become invisible.

-When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. In a way it’s a transcendent experience: we lose our bodies, our messy feelings, our desires, our fears. It reminds me that those of us who turn in disgust from what we consider an overinflated liberal-bourgeois sense of self should be careful what we wish for: our denuded networked selves don’t look more free, they just look more owned.
-Step back from your Facebook Wall for a moment: Doesn’t it, suddenly, look a little ridiculous? Your life in this format?

-The last defense of every Facebook addict is: but it helps me keep in contact with people who are far away! Well, e-mail and Skype do that, too, and they have the added advantage of not forcing you to interface with the mind of Mark Zuckerberg—but, well, you know. We all know. If we really wanted to write to these faraway people, or see them, we would. What we actually want to do is the bare minimum, just like any nineteen-year-old college boy who’d rather be doing something else, or nothing.

-In this sense, The Social Network is not a cruel portrait of any particular real-world person called “Mark Zuckerberg.” It’s a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.



  1. Couldn't have said it better myself! Ditto Zadie.

  2. Laura, I will always consider you a pioneer in the anti-facebook movement.