Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A decade with facebook: indulgence, censorship and idiocy

It might be OK to become an indulgent member of a platform that promotes censorship in this era. But to use it like an idiot?  

So, facebook is 10 years old. Many of us are in the platform for years. Personally, I am happy with my own use of facebook. I use it avidly but judiciously. I am always offline for chatting and have stopped sending friend request for very long with some exceptions.


As such, there is no basis for a grudge against the social media platform. It has brought a staggering billion plus people together in an unprecedented way. It stores people’s data and makes it available very liberally. It lets you adjust privacy settings. It may tempt you to join but it never forces you to.
Then why the grudging title to this article, you may ask. Here I am not merely looking at vices and virtues of facebook as a platform but rather the way people have associated themselves with facebook through the use of their accounts.
To be more precise, my objection is against the lousy use of the platform by a very large proportion people on it. When a tool is wrongly used by people and there is an untoward incident, the tool too is sometimes blamed for the consequences. While this is my inference about the culpability of facebook as a platform in a host of undesirable ramifications of a giant social network, some researchers have found a genuine wrongdoing on part of facebook. To the dismay of many facebook-lovers, the conclusions of those researchers are convincing.
First, my impressions: a whole generation of indulgent people has been born with rise of facebook as a popular platform. Not that the indulgence of these people borders to a crime or a disaster. But there are situations short of a disaster which are very troubling in the long term. At the very moment I am writing these words in a room with many computers with internet connection, every other single user, (all of them students) is busy only with facebook. Many of them skip classes to be lost in the enticing world of facebook.
While there is no uniformly inverse relationship between studying and using facebook, indulgence in facebook has swallowed a significant part of time that would have been otherwise utilized in a host of other less intellectually sterile activities. In developing nations like Nepal where a stunted and fragile economy direly lacks productive activities, the society is steadily losing creativity and intellectual vitality. As if television channels and computer games were not enough, here has come facebook to do away with leftover creativity of the people.
How facebook can make you an idiot is another question. I know a good number of people who entered the world of internet when facebook was already there. They were so fascinated by the site that they take internet and facebook for the same thing. Clearly, the galaxy and a planet are mistaken with one another. Is that not a patent idiocy?
I have elaborated the extent of damage caused by the injudicious use of facebook elsewhere and now turn to the third legacy of facebook: censorship. As can be expected, my limited expertize on the subject does not allow me to make such a big allegation. And hence I take the help of an expert on the subject.
On a comprehensive and stinging article published on May 12, 2012 titled Meet the enemy of the internet', Kartik Boddapati ruthlessly dissects this legacy of facebook. To avoid redundancy (now that every reader will scramble to read that article), I say this much only: with facebook, an age of subtle but dangerous censorship has dawned in internet.
Now it might be OK to become an indulgent member of a platform that promotes censorship in this era. But to use it like an idiot? That does not appeal at all to me. And should not to you either.

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