Thursday, April 7, 2011

Facebook and the Common Denominator

As I stride boldly into the prime of my life (I come from a long line of long livers) I have found it to be true that no matter what system or tool is invented once you release it into the hands of the Common Denominator the same kinds of things will occur.  Facebook is a case in point.  All the hype would seem to say it is a wonderful tool.  My experience of Facebook comes up with one to the good and several to the bad. 

A small dog was put down, unsupervised with a two year old child.  The two young creatures got to playing, the puppy, surprise, behaved like a dog and nipped the child. The child's uncle declared his determination to have the puppy put down.  (My nasty side asks if he was the one who provided the lack of supervision.)  Dog lovers in the know sprang into action, created a Facebook page and the dog was saved.  Facebook as puppy savior.

I belong to the Saskatoon Writer's Coop.  I am a member in good standing.  The group now has a Facebook page.  They run contests on that page.  Unless I am willing to give my personal information to Mark Zuckerberg*, I am no longer able to have access to the full range of the Coop's services.  Facebook as gated community.

"You are not on Facebook?   What are you..."  anti-social?  a technophobe?  weird?  a coward?  Facebook as a stick for the social minded to hit the private types with.

A now former friend told me, when I suggested she needed to put more into our friendship if it was going to survive (I did the visiting, the phoning, the emailing), that she knew the solution:  I could follow her on Facebook.  Facebook as personal newsletter for your fans to read.

Mr. Harper has now apologized for his people throwing those two girls out of his public address, saying that all Canadians are welcome.  Yes, I so trust that man.  Facebook as tool for Big Brother.

I like to stay in touch with my family and friends;  I have a business in my other life and run a website;  I had a headset phone way back in the stone age:  I use technologies I find useful.  I can see the usefulness of the tool of Facebook. I may one day have to get an account for my business. But we have added in the Common Denominator, and it is playing in its usual fashion, some good, some nasty.  Some of the nasty could, ignored, get very nasty indeed.

*Mark Zuckerberg.  A brilliant young man who created Facebook in part to post information about college women so he could rate them like cattle at a stock sale.  Mr. Zuckerberg believes in transparency.  The privacy settings of Facebook were purposefully made difficult so that people would give more information.  He is trying to get the Common Denominator used to being fully open about itself. (Paraphrase: The Facebook effect : the inside story of the company that is connecting the world / David Kirkpatrick)   But Mr. Zuckerberg's understanding of the Common Denominator as beings, as far as I can, see is low. Does he, for example, recognize his sexism when he looks in the mirror? 

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