One of the technologists in the film, Jaron Lanier, makes the case (in the film and in many other instances).
To varying degrees, we all make our cases against F to the B. Some of us quit the platform if we can. We tolerate it if we can not. Others enjoy the content without giving a thought in the world to the systems that demand our attention and manipulate our opinions.
Small Business Owners (Many With No Website) See Facebook Differently
Not every small business needs a website. Most do need some form of web presence, and Facebook has made it simple for millions of small business owners and operators to reach new and existing customers via the social media platform.
What does any of this have to do with the above criticisms? Not a thing, because Facebook is not one thing like the Internet is not one thing and television is not one thing. Facebook has the problems assigned to it by its critics. The platform is also useful for millions of people who want to sell or buy things.
“Take care of your community, and they will always take care of you,” says Cynthia Hawkins, owner of Hawkins House of Burgers in Los Angeles.
Is this also what Facebook believes? Probably not when Facebook is just Mark and Sheryl. But Facebook has thousands of employees not named Mark or Sheryl. Those people not named Mark or Sheryl also have a say.
According to Sheryl:
We’re taking steps to improve our products, programs and policies. We pooled ideas from diverse groups of our employees across different teams on how we can better fight against racial injustice. Today we are sharing that we’re already putting some of these to work.
Building on earlier investments, we’re committing an additional $200 million to support Black-owned businesses and organizations. This commitment is part of a broader $1.1 billion investment in Black and diverse suppliers and communities in the US. We’re also creating a new space in the Facebook app called Lift Black Voices and we’re building a more diverse and inclusive workforce so we can better support communities around the world.
A billion dollars is a good start. It’s also a small price to pay to bolster the public relations of one of the world’s richest and most powerful companies.
In case you missed it, the company beat Wall Street’s expectations for Q2 2020 financial earnings across the board. Facebook earned revenues of $18.69 billion, up 11% compared to the same time period last year, and growth in daily active users of Facebook was up to 1.79 billion people per day.
Why the FB Quitters Quit
Quartz reporter Matthew De Silva quit Facebook for political reasons.
The advantages of quitting were immediately obvious. I started to save time, probably a good 20 to 30 minutes per day, and I felt a surge of righteous vindication. Every time a Facebook scandal broke, I didn’t feel complicit. Whenever the company came up in conversation, I felt good about myself, though slightly left out.
Political gestures are important to many people, but there is a big difference between virtue signaling and activism. An activist doesn’t leave Facebook, she leaves a mark.
Facebook Is Like Food
I have an Internet addiction. One way to manage it is to quit Facebook, Twitter, and all social media. The other way to manage it is through conscious behavior modifications. An addiction to Facebook, Twitter, and the rest is like an addiction to food. When drugs and alcohol are the problem substances, you remove them, but removing food from the house isn’t an option. When you’re hooked on food, the path to a healthier relationship with food relies on a systematic approach that helps determine what you buy and what you eat.
If your Facebook feed is a junk food diet of trolls and haters, your daily visits to the Facebook fridge will result in a sugar rush followed by a hard drop. The good news is you determine what you see. The machine suggests relentlessly, but you decide, and herein lies my major problem with the social media hypercritical. The technologists like Jaron Lanier are evangelists of technology, so naturally, their arguments tend to give more power to the technology than it has.
Social media is an online hall of mirrors. It only reflects what it sees, and it only sees what you put in front of the mirror. Ask yourself that last time you were triggered by a Facebook post and why. For me, it was yesterday morning and the reason was liberal pontification. In the past, it could have been a conservative who annoyed me, but I removed them from my feed. Now, I unfollow or unfriend the most strident liberals, for the same reasons.
For me, the best solution is a careful, considered, methodical approach to social media posting, reading, and engagement. For better and worse, Facebook is the place where family and friends gather. When I step off, I must then ask my nieces, friends from college, and others to find alternate routes to reach me. It’s not just my habit that’s in question, and this is the deal-breaker for me. I’m not going to ask my family and friends to work around Facebook for me. They would resent the request before ignoring it. Like it or not, social media, like email, cell phones, and cable TV are here to stay. The task is to manage it all like a pro.