Friday, January 27, 2017

The Destruction of Facebook Revisited

You may recall that back in November I did a short fast from Facebook in order to get through the actual election.  The title - And That, Friends, Was Facebook - was reflective of my opinion that the vehicle of the election had effectively destroyed the concept of Facebook as a community, that the vitriol and bitter anger of both sides would collapse it as a social medium.

I am sad to report - but not altogether surprised to report - that this seems to be exactly what has occurred.

The level of ire and wrath has not decreased on either side -indeed, it has come to reach even greater levels than I could have anticipated.  Having friends on both "sides", I get to see the best and worst (but mostly the worst) of both.

There are a narrow range of people that still do not seem to comment one way or the other and in some cases actually go out of their way to avoid talking anything about it (I would be one of those).  But it is a small group, and seems to be getting smaller as the lines are hardening.

The thing that is most disconcerting is when someone posts something particularly scornful, sarcastic, or mocking.  What I find that does to me is instantly begin to compromise anything else that they say. It becomes the filter through which I find myself reviewing everything else I know about them. If I am not careful, I find myself saying "If they believe that and say that, how can they hold to this position?"

I wonder, in the back of my head at times, if this is what the beginning of all civil disruptions begin like:  the rhetoric becomes more and more hostile and people listen less and less.  Before long, they find that they cannot stand the other side at all.  They begin to attribute intentions to the other side that may not exist because of the rhetoric used.  Words become feelings, feelings become actions.

So perhaps it is not that Facebook is slowly destroying itself that is the issue. It is the fact that Facebook has become a mirror of our society slowly destroying ourselves.

2 comments:

WL Emery said...

Facebook is a commercial enterprise, no more nor less. It provides a service, and like the telephone company in the bad old days (POTS, AT&T, Captain Crunch) is disavows all responsibility for the content.

FB does not allow free speech. It, or rather its employees at the direction of its owner, censor posts as directed.

The community or communities on FB, such as they are, formed more by accident than anything else. If the community fractured the PC rule du jour, the SJWs would howl until the user in question was sufficiently chastised or banned or whatever.

My point is that it isn't Facebook that's at fault, so much as it is conservative users. SJWs congregate by nature, while Wingnuts are generally solitary sorts, respecting everyone in spite of differences of opinion. For example, should some other user attack President Trump, and I dare to disagree with them, I become an immediate target for SJWs everywhere, but the Wingnuts won't immediately flock to my defense. This is the scenario you're probably seeing on FB, and it makes the place appear to be an electronic version of Bedlam.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Oh, I agree that Facebook is a commercial entity and has litle enough ultimately to do with free speech.

I suppose my point is not so much one side or the other as much as it is that Facebook has enabled - or rather, the Interweb has enabled and Facebook has capitalized on -the written equivalent of "fire and forget", where words can be lobbed and the whole post walked away from - or deleted. Posts are made more to appeal to one's own view rather that attempting to either work with or even respect the other side. Where this ends, I think, is a point at which both sides view the other as "enemy" to be mocked, derided, and ultimately crushed. By casting the other side as fools and morons you place them beyond redemption.

I am seeing posts from friends on both sides of the divide posting that they are serious considering or are in the process of deleting their accounts. This, I think, is the ultimate outcome of Facebook becoming less relevant. Certainly I do not want to constantly walk into my house and be subjected to arguments. I do not think I would go somewhere on the Interweb to experience the same.

Thanks for stopping by!