An interesting anti-Facebook (FB) rant in the Guardian today from Tom Hodgkinson. I have expressed some reservations about this phenomenally successful social networking tool and what motivates people to use it previously on this blog, and I have some sympathy with some of his views. However, I fundamentally disagree with some of his points.
‘Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California?’ says Tom. No more reason than having your relationships mediated through alcoholic stupor induced by faceless brewery executives in the Far East – i.e. the pub – Tom’s preferred mediation method!
He makes big play of the ‘politics’ of the invisible men behind FB – should we care? Do we care about the ‘politics’ of those who provide products and services that we find useful in other walks of life? Who knows or cares about the politics of the people behind Amazon or eBay? They serve us so we use them – if they strop serving us, we stop using them. Given recent ‘lost data disc’ incidents in the UK – I’m more concerned about the competence rather than the politics of those who hold my data! I notice Tom has contributed to Murdoch papers in the past … enough said.
Tom seems to think that the only way for FB is up and that it does not balance tentatively on the fickle tight-rope of user favour … my view is that FB could collapse within a couple of months and might well do so in the future if we, the users, switch allegiances elsewhere. The ‘power’ in this relationship is with us, the users – not the suits behind the scenes (e.g. beacon advertising debacle). However, we shouldn’t relinquish that power through complacency …
Tom seems to hold the view that electronic connection is worthless compared with ‘real’ connections. The question is: have social-network-facilitated interactions replaced real ones or are they new interactions – if the latter then they surely can only be a good thing. He also fails to understand that millions of people use FB to organise ‘real’ interactions in ‘real’ places – ‘Far from connecting us, FB actually isolates us at our work stations’ – sorry Tom … for many FB is a means to an end, not an end in itself – this statement merely illustrates that Tom is not an active FB user!
The thrust of this article smacks of the age-old British disease … build-em-up, knock-em-down – with a conspiracy theory thrown in for good measure … an article which starts: ‘I despise Facebook’ is hardly going to be a balanced view on anything – unfortunately, this type of unbalanced rant is increasingly common in newspapers these days as they can no longer compete with the web for news.
Lest we should forget … Tom supports, through his articles, the newspaper industry … surely one of the most nepotistic and self-serving industries in existence owned by and serving the agendas of some decidedly dodgy characters …
To use Tom’s words: ‘Why on God’s earth would I … waste money on newspapers full of yesterday’s news and ill-informed comment?’