It is a fact that most of us know Facebook; and when I am saying most of us I actually mean all of us except some ones who either do not use internet or do not have at all. Someone can use Facebook for several reasons; entertainment and work are the two most frequent factors that lead people to Facebook. It is a free advertisement of our work after all.
However, this article is not written in order to demonstrate how Facebook is bad or good or anything between. The conclusions though will present us some issues; issues that pass in front of our eyes but we cannot see them because we are too busy with something else. There is a video on YouTube that shows an experiment; some people are playing with a ball and the video asks you to count how many times they touch the ball. In the meantime a bear is crossing by and most of the watchers do not see the bear just because they are focused on counting the times that the people in the video touch the ball. Imagine that on Facebook; we are too focused on the “Likes” and the messages we receive that we do not see the threats.
A single spam, a virus, a warning all that belong in the irrelevant list as it comes to one new “Like”. Having said the irrelevant list, let’s go to J.J. Abrams and his new production; a TV serial named “Person of Interest”. The main theme behind the serial is a group of people (2 – 6) who can access everyone’s computers, mobile phones, GPRS networks, bank accounts, identities and all that matters to a person. They call it “The Machine” and each time at the beginning the watcher listens the following quotation:
“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know, because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people; people like you. Crimes the government considered ‘irrelevant’. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up… we’ll find you”.
At the beginning everything seems okay and even the voice travels you to a fairytale or a fantasy story but if we look just a little bit closer isn’t that how Facebook works?! No one needs spies now; they can be replaced by Facebook. Is what I am saying too naive?
If this thought of mine is naive let’s check some applications. Facebook games want access to your profile, Facebook applications want access to your information, Facebook wants access to your phone in order to download it and the thing goes on and on until we finally reached the bottom: the new Facebook application “Messenger” which is obligatory to download it in tablets and phones, wants full access to your mobile (contacts, messages, pictures etc.) and it can also send everything and have everything on your phone without having the right to complain because you already accepted it. It is kind of cheering seeing someone’s naked pictures and say “look where this dumb got into” even if it is Kate Upton (whose naked pictures revealed on iCloud among others) but it is a fact that if you do not see your naked pictures is that you are not too famous. They do exist but they are on the “irrelevant list” hidden by anonymity.
So, what is this thing about Facebook and “The Machine” that I am trying to prove here? Both of them create worlds. They construct and create a different world; a world that numbers matters and we are all numbers. “The Machine” gives numbers to the “vigilantes” either to save them or stop them; it creates a profile for someone either good or bad. Facebook demonstrates us through a profile; sometimes it does but some other time it does not at all. This is the moment where Facebook stops being Mark Zuckerberg’s application – creation and becomes a creator. It creates a different world; a world where the stupidest human can sound really smart if s/he is quoting all day quotes from people like Shakespeare, a world where people edit their pictures in order to look “beautiful”, a world where you can be no longer yourself and actually you are a little bit famous from the time you create your account. Our account is our ID to that new world which coexist with the other one, the real one which we must work hard, which we must open our eyes and see what is actually happening.
In Cyprus we recently had a ‘haircut’ of our money; why do we even name it like that – that’s a different story but what matters here is our reaction. As soon as we realized what happened we run to the banks, and then back home we log into our account and we were happy enough to see that they did not take our “Texas Hold’em Poker” chips which we sweat so much to gain. “Is that even possible?” some of you are wondering. This is why Facebook became a creator; because sooner or later we prioritize our needs and the things that matter to us through our new profile. It is much more difficult to change your profile in the society because there are people who know you but you can actually change your profile through Facebook by using a keyboard. So what do you choose, what is the world that you want to live into? What would be more important – someone to send you a letter or someone to send you a friend request?
Facebook is a world with games, works, activities, quizzes, opinions and like the real world Facebook has friends and enemies, it includes good people, bad people, people who want to help you, people who want to harm you, programs that are there to help you, programs and shops that are there to sell their products at any cost; just like the Real World. The only difference between the interaction through Facebook and the physical is that you do not move, walk, train you just sit in front of a laptop and you chat. It is not that you are antisocial; in fact you might be more social and that shows that we have different attitudes because it is a different world. Facebook imitates the real world and gives you the opportunity to be in the same world but be like you imagine yourself to be; however the fact is that Facebook is a constructed world which reminds J. J. Abrams “The Machine”.
It is a world that misguides us but it is a world indeed. I never said that this world is bad; it is just that we are humans and as we know we were always trying to create better worlds to live into. Mark Zuckerberg just gave us a new world to promote what we cannot or what we have not tried enough in our real lives and we must not prioritize our needs, our values and our lives in that constructed world because Facebook is both; as it is good and bad at the same time it is also a creation and a creator which showed us once again that humans often create things they cannot control and in the end they control us. Is it a coincidence that Facebook and Frankenstein has the same initial letter? Probably yes but both of them outreached their masters’ imagination and limitations!