When I saw the Cambridge Analytica story break on Saturday night, ahead of the expose in the Guardian on Sunday, I made the point to my husband that by this time in the week ahead, it would be all anyone was talking about. Last night, he came and congratulated me for my foresight. I’ve not had a serious Facebook presence for many years, and the only reason name is not deleted completely from the platform is that it is a requirement when one advertises using a Facebook page. There are no illusions when it comes to my presence on the platform. I’m there to build a brand.
The platform, however, isn’t interested in my needs, only its own.
I only have two ‘friends’ linked to my main Facebook page, and sometimes five or six times a day the algorithm attempts to get me to follow somebody they know. I’ve spent an hour some days clicking ‘remove’ until the list is clear, to come back the next day and find everybody is back. This ‘social network’ does not take no for an answer. Saying you are not interested is insufficient. It continues to hassle you until you either give in or stop listening. Those people now wanting to blame the people behind the application for the damage it has caused fail to grasp that it is not just drug dealers who are culpable for addiction issues. Facebook is our fault too.
What continues to strike me with amazement, is the willingness some people accept the virtual world as being fact. It isn’t just fake news either: yesterday, someone popped up in my Twitter mentions, assuming I was an artist because a news article about said individual was linked in relevance to an item I was promoting. The leap in logic that took place was, frankly, staggering, but it also demonstrated an arrogance of perception that should be giving many people cause for considerable concern. Social media makes us believe that major World events are ours to influence, whilst sitting in front of a screen or holding a mobile device.
The truth, of course, is anything but.
The arrogance of many people is now even more apparent than ever before: watching key players in the row trying to blame each other is almost comical when the truth remains that if we as users hadn’t have insisted we all needed this platform, none of it would have happened. If individuals organised themselves better, didn’t think success equated to huge follower numbers and stopped believing the future exists in a cloud and not in front of them… The Internet is a brilliant place when it’s just a library, or a repository for knowledge. It’s totally fine with small groups of people who organise their own rulesets. The problem comes when someone turns up and wants to make money from your ignorance and fear.
This has always been the way the World has worked, people who seem to think this manipulation is somehow new. Religion has used these tactics to subjugate populations and keep the rabble in check for thousands of years. Don’t worry, people of faith, I’m not about to diss your omnipotent overseers. I’m looking at a Catholic Church that would tell people there was no way they’d get into heaven without a payment plan. I’m remembering the Snake Oil sellers and the guy who convinced you he could make it rain simply by doing a dance. Playing on basic individuals needs to be loved, popular and not alone… happened since the Human race came out of the caves. Sure, there needs to be better regulation of such things, but honestly?
Only ourselves to blame here.
Today, I’ll be removing my Facebook presence for good using this Guide. On considered reflection, if it matters that much, then someone can start a fan page for me. Other people can post my links to their pages. If they want me, I’m here, in a place that I regulate under my own terms and conditions. This way there is no need to then get frustrated at the daily efforts to make me be ‘social’ which are nothing more than beating me up and hoping finally I give in to make it stop. That’s not how you make people care, and it is certainly not a future that is either desired or preferable.
Sometimes, the only way you make things better isn’t to hope somebody else solves the issue, but to attack it for yourself.
There. That’s sorted now.]