Newton’s Sleep and the Marriage of Heaven and Hell

What to do about Facebook? Teaching fifth-graders to code doesn’t seem like the right answer. Teaching them William Blake might be….

2 Comments

  1. bystander says:

    Beats me! To be honest, I couldn’t get past Facebook’s origins – couple that with what I find to be a ugly user interface in its current form – and I didn’t see the appeal. Now, toss in all of its evil, hideous missteps, and I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. There have been some clubs I had to drop out of because the club migrated to that platform. Still, I know a lot of people who can’t seem to live without the platform. Don’t know if breaking it up is the answer, or not; but I don’t see the harm to users if it is. Facebook as a corporate entity could stand to have its wings clipped.

    As for William Blake, he’d be good for all of us right now; though maybe especially 5th graders.

    • William Timberman says:

      The Internet, like television before it, has become a genuinely toxic medium. Unintended consequences may be part of the reason why, but only a small part. Much of the evil inherent in a Facebook, Google, or Amazon was present at the outset in the coldly conscious decision-making of their respective founders.

      Mark Zuckerberg’s business model is essentially that of a drug dealer, the difference being that he controls not the supply, but the demand. As a consequence — a very much intended consequence — every content supplier from New York to Hollywood to Moscow’s desinformatsya factories now has an easy-to-use tool that affords them access to a captive audience far larger than television ever offered them. All that’s required of them is that they let Facebook take all the revenue from ads placed against the content they provide. What a deal, right?

      So are these folks the evildoers, corrupting Zuck’s vision of benevolently facilitated togetherness? Hardly. (Ignore the gales of cynical laughter in the background. I’ll edit them out later.) It’s just not in Zuck’s interest to ask too many questions about where the money is coming from, or what, in fact his suppliers are selling to his captive audience, so long as that audience keeps growing.

      It absolutely is possible, I believe, for individuals to train themselves to be the curators of their own stimuli, but that requires an asceticism very much not in accord with the temper of our times. So we do what we were going to do anyway, and wait for the times to change. If what we wind up with after all that watchful waiting is Neuromancer, or Blade Runner, we’ll be well-equipped to survive. If we get Mad Max instead, then the troglodytes will inherit the earth, just as the screechy liberals have been warning us all along.