Today we mostly read Generation Why, an essay by Zadie Smith (Thanks for pointing it out Mr Shute.)
It’s long, but worth it. It is the most brilliant and persuasive argument for why we should all leave Facebook immediately.
It’s a review of The Social Network and the book ‘You are not a gadget’ by Jaron Lanier. But it’s mostly her musings on the world of social media and how it’s defining today’s behaviour.
Here are some of our favourite bits for those of you that don’t have time to read it all.
“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 feels important to remind ourselves, at this point, that Facebook, our new beloved interface with reality, was designed by a Harvard sophomore with a Harvard sophomore’s preoccupations. What is your relationship status? (Choose one. There can be only one answer. People need to know.) Do you have a “life”? (Prove it. Post pictures.) Do you like the right sort of things? (Make a list. Things to like will include: movies, music, books and television, but not architecture, ideas, or plants.)”
“Shouldn’t we struggle against Facebook? Everything in it is reduced to the size of its founder. Blue, because it turns out Zuckerberg is red-green color-blind. “Blue is the richest color for me—I can see all of blue.” Poking, because that’s what shy boys do to girls they are scared to talk to. Preoccupied with personal trivia, because Mark Zuckerberg thinks the exchange of personal trivia is what “friendship” is. A Mark Zuckerberg Production indeed! We were going to live online. It was going to be extraordinary. Yet what kind of living is this? Step back from your Facebook Wall for a moment: Doesn’t it, suddenly, look a little ridiculous? Your life in this format?”
“I am dreaming of a Web that caters to a kind of person who no longer exists. A private person, a person who is a mystery, to the world and—which is more important—to herself. Person as mystery…”
Anyway, hope that’s enough to inspire you to read the article.
And yet, in true 2.0 style I immediately posted some of my favourite bits to facebook, aware of how utterly contradictory and ‘meta’ this was. Sorry Zadie.
The trouble is, even if you’re completely sold on the idea of leaving facebook, which you probably will be after reading the piece, still the thought of devoting a whole day to gathering up everyone’s email addresses, and backing up your photos suddenly seems a bit much. So, even though Zadie is spot on, actually extrapolating yourself from your facebook virtual world is, ashamedly, easier said than done.
Oh well. The film itself is well worth a watch if you’ve not already – another brilliant script by the writer of ‘Studio 60 of the Sunset Strip’, the most unsung hero of NBC.