arbiter of a generation

You gotta love Facebook.

This company has revolutionized the way humans interact with each other around the planet, and despite the fact that many of us are grateful for the opportunity to use the platform for personal connection and widespread dissemination of information, Facebook is also a contributor to some extremely negative effects on human behavior, and may even be re-wiring an entire generation.

You wonder why civil discourse is virtually non-existent? (And nope, you can’t place the blame solely on the current inhabitant of the Oval Office.) Does it actually surprise you that truly intelligent, rational thinking is sinking into the mire of self-entrenched fundamentalism? (Under this label, I include those who believe in the supernatural and those who don’t.) Facebook is not the “first cause” for such societal breakdown, but it does have the tendency to pander to our worst instincts of “look at me” promotion and self-centered expediency. People get their information “rush” in hyperbolic bits from the blue-bannered dispenser of all things “social,” so that they can quickly know what to think, and how to connect with the latest gee-whiz cultural event, without putting in all the nasty effort required to actually seek wisdom–which requires time and effort and thoughtful self-examination and wise counsel.

I hate to be the meanie who points this out, but Facebook doesn’t care about you, or me, or meaningful social interaction, despite their warm fuzzy protestations to the contrary. Facebook is a business, and anything that makes it more money is fair game.

The company really wants you to believe, however, that it is watching out for your safety. Why, just check out how the company has banished Faith McDonnell, a woman who dares to share a post about Christian martyrs. She, along with so many others, attempts to give perspective to the world in which we live: a world of individuals who perform the most ghastly atrocities, as well as the genuine, unsung heroes who daily give themselves to sacrificial love and service to the “least of” humanity. But it is important, apparently, that you and I are kept safe from unpleasant realities.

Free speech can be a genuinely difficult concept, because rights that are truly important almost always have a myriad of nuanced, interconnected results. What limits does a platform such as Facebook set on the sharing of ideas? Is it OK to allow pedophiles, or neo-Nazis, or drug dealers to display whatever filth they wish to promote? No reasonable person would believe that would be acceptable. The real issue is that, at least in the case of Faith McDonnell, Facebook’s response was not responsible caution but an impersonal decision generated most likely by an algorithm and enforced through an impersonal form letter. It was a knee-jerk, CYA reaction–no discussion, no appeal. And that should concern us.

I am probably committing the logical fallacy of reductio ad absurdum (“reduction to absurdity”), but I wonder how long it will be before we are routinely shielded from unpleasant issues such as, say, human trafficking and dire poverty and the holocaust of abortion and our desperate need for a Savior.

But hey, at least you can find cute pictures of puppies and kittens, and a gazillion clickbait ads and facile intelligence tests…..

One thought on “arbiter of a generation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s