Do we use Facebook, or does it consume us?


(Caroline Savery) #1

This tentacled Leviathan is what we are up against–a monster of a corporation that feeds itself by profiting off of our personalities, social connections, and preferences. We are now the essential food of these corporations, they consume US… like Marco alluded to in a talk a couple weeks ago, how are multinational multibillion dollar corporations not like demigod giants, fighting epic wars on the planet’s surface, while we, their shackled food and minions, cower in helplessness?

So what is its critical weak spot–like how you’ve got to hit the dragon square in the heart, or Achilles in his heel? Do we want to take down this monster–what would come crashing down with it? Are we content to let it absorb us wholly, not putting up a fuss, not demanding better terms (such as: let’s WE own and profit off our own social capital and collective genius, for instance?)

To starve the beast, the one thing I can think of is that we redirect our attention (our “eyeballs”), because ultimately, our attention to and use of the tool is what gives it life. But with 2 billion people on the platform, how would any attempt to jump ship not just cause self-isolation into smaller squads? (Well, at least doing that could diversify the ecosystem of alternative conversational spaces and platforms… allowing for enhanced likelihood that a mutated innovation might spread and potentially take down Facebook by superior design, if the conditions were just right…)

Parsing these dense and numerous (but not infinite) threads is and will continue to be a long-term discussion… I just hope we can unentangle ourselves enough to see the reality for what it is, before we are swallowed whole.


[2/20] Cosmos Café: Stare into the lights my pretties—a talk with filmmaker Jordan Brown
(Eduardo Próspero) #2

It consumes us. Next question.

No really, I’ve thought about this and the thing is, Zuckerberg is ten times the developer and strategist than his nearest competition in the social media field. He is the main reason for that company’s success and dominion. And he’s young and merciless.

But fear not, for every Carlitos there’s a Benny Blanco (from the Bronx).

Sadly and apparently unavoidable, facebook will do a lot of damage before the next one comes.


(Marco V Morelli) #3

Word on the street is that Zuck’s thinking of running for president one day:

He’d probably win, too…

He’d probably even be good at the job, I’d bet.

So this is the world we’re living in.

It’s hard not to be marginal if you have a fundamentally different social vision.

Or…you could get along and go along, but where is this world going?

I’d like to believe there are always opportunities for disruption and people choosing differently, if given the options. However, it would take some deep coordination between a lot of really smart and committed people around the world to out-strategize the tech titans.

I’m not sure we can do it, or if it’s even the right way to frame the issue…but as @timothylyrics has told me, we have to do the “impossible.”


(Eduardo Próspero) #4

I don’t know what it says about me but, hypothetically speaking, I guess I would vote for that Zuckerberg fellow.

About the big picture, it seems to me like those tech titans already won and there’s not much to be done but bare witness, but the Universe has a way of turning the game on its head. It would take a miracle but we might just get one. Hence, going for the impossible might not be the worst strategy.

Anyway, facebook super sucks but I still use it.


(Jim Trattner) #5

Lighten up you guys. We’ve got bigger fish to fry than going after FB right now. Besides it doesn’t look good to be so terribly critical of the most successful social-media endeavour, ever before. Focus on making Cosmos an even more compelling product. FB, isn’t your enemy. American Facism, Global Warming, Koch Brothers, Robert Mercer, Isis,
President Trump, HealthCare etc. are in my opinion of much more immediate concern. I realize it’s very “in” to be so down on FB right now, but it seems to be that there are many other truly existential threats to contend with than debating the issue of FB’s relative worth. My unasked for advice is to stick to your knitting and continue to build out Cosmos.


(Ed Mahood) #6

My last job in the States before emigrating was a small medical-imaging company whose closest competitors were GE, Siemens, and Toshiba. It was diffficult to go about one’s business without thinking of them. It was right, of course, that we stuck to our knitting and did what we did best, and we were eventually bought by a larger medical devices producer who in turn was gobbled up by a huge heathcare-products conglomerate. Our products from then were not developed further and are no longer available, also because the fundamental technology (it went from x-rays to sound) changed and we could no longer adapt quickly enough to the changing environment.

So, yes @JimT, you’re right, but we should also not ignore what’s nearby.


(Marco V Morelli) #7

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say it’s 2020, Trump’s running again, the Dems put up some loser, and Zuckerberg’s thrown his hat into the ring as an Independent, on a platform of social inclusion, universal basic income, and a massive-scale reinvention of government (coordinating with Trudeau, Macron, and other sexy young progressive world leaders) in the semblance of a multilateral, AI-enabled, digital democracy: I would certainly vote for Zuckerberg.

And he would surely win–he’s already post-human! He would be no ordinary candidate, but the perfectly optimized one. The most friends, the most likes, the most votes. If anyone can win a war of algorithms, it’s him.

In this universe of abundance, we are driven around in our Teslas while interfacing with our “friends” on Facebook VR, and the energy, war, healthcare, and climate problems are dealt with through machine learning. The rest of human history (what’s left of it) is groovy.

All the more reason for sustaining–and I would argue, deepening–the critique of Facebook, because the future is only going to be media and communication. The future is culture. It’s imperative that we think about what kind of culture we wish to create, and who’s going to own it, and how it’s going to run. How can we not reflect critically on the dominant platforms of the noosphere? At the very least, the Tech Titans need some kind of loyal opposition, even through I really do agree with Bucky Fuller that it’s a waste of time to fight the existing reality, when you could be building a better model that makes the old one obsolete. Point well taken.

I’ll keep to my quiet, quirky knitting here, for sure! I have less and less need of Facebook everyday, thus less charge around it. I know what I like, and what I love…and I’m even beginning to re-learn (howsoever bumblingly, like a nectar-drunken bee) what friendship is made of.


(Jim Trattner) #8

Thank you, Marco and Ed for your thoughtful replies. To follow my own advice, I’d like to make a suggestion regarding the still evolving birth process of Cosmos. Take a closer look at crypto-currency as well as the Blockchain OS. This may be a timely opportunity to help us members and you founders to speculate and acquaint ouselves with a very new and progressive paradigm. There is also the possibility that a remarkable increase in value might occur (a windfall that I’m sure the COOP would welcome). I can’t imagine a better time historically to introduce this currency as an option to the newly minted Cosmos offering.


(vanessa.d.fisher) #9

Just thought I’d jump in with a couple reflections as I unplugged from Facebook almost 2 months ago now. My primary reasons for unplugging are somewhat different from the primary concerns here but they also tie in in some ways.

I had been a pretty avid facebook user for the last eight years or so and I had developed a nice little following and set of online friends and networks. I’m a writer and content creator, so it also really helped with getting the word out on my work. I can’t deny that facebook really helped me spread my own work further, and that I also had some great discussions and debates on that forum over the years and that those discussions and debates shaped and even sometimes changed my views on certain important topics.

But now that I have been off facebook for almost 2 months, I’m convinced that most of the connections I felt I had through that sphere were mostly ethereal and lacked substance in the deepest sense. That is also fine, btw. Sometimes online spaces are just good for more superficial discussion//debate or getting the word out on things. But I’m really starting to see that I put too much stock into some of those relationships, and that they became a substitute for closer connections in my immediate life, which I’m now spending a lot more time on.

I have definitely noticed that not having my personal page up now that I get less views on my youtube videos, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the trade off was worth it. At least at this point in my life. Going off fb also coincided with a larger decision to shift the focus of my career goals, so leaving fit with other life pursuits

One of my main concerns with online spaces like facebook is that I think they feed a sense that if you aren’t on them, you are missing out on all the action. I felt a lot of that fear when I was chosing to go off. I’m not a gullible person, but this had a huge impact on me. I didn’t want to miss the latest hot topic of discussion, the latest baby photo from a person I have no real connection to anyways, the recent drama or gossip about this or that politician. There was something so subtly ensnaring about the whole thing and about feeling like you would “drop out of the world” if you weren’t part of it. Since going off, I realize how stupid that thinking was. I don’t feel any less connected to what is going on in the world, and in fact I spend more time reading books and deep op ed pieces now that I’m spending less time on facebook.

The other concern I have about facebook is one that has been talked about by some others and that is that sharing articles, and talking about issues on facebook, often becomes a substitute for real action in the world. You share or like an article on Syria and feel you have done your civic duty. It’s a subtle thing but I think very deep. I noticed some of this even in myself after going off the thing and seeing some of those disconnects more clearly.

So it’s been an interesting and instructive experience. I won’t say whether facebook is ultimately bad or good for the world. That is too big of a question for little me to answer. I can say the tremendous benefits I’ve felt taking down my personal page (I still have a public page for uploading my youttube videos but no access to the fb stream and I spend at most 30 mins a week on the thing at this point just to upload videos and respond to a few comments on my public page videos).

All in all, I feel it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. But again, it came at a time in my life when I was really ready and moving in a certain direction. I can’t say when is the best timing for others.

Just my 2 cents


(john davis) #10

I have weaned myself off of FB, too, Vanessa. On the rare occasion that I met people from FB in real time, I had very good experiences. There was a sense of having met the person before and this was a pleasure. I met my pal, Marco, from FB. But this was not always the case.

I also noted that the persona I have developed on FB was getting in my way socially. I recall going to meet a lovely couple who followed me on FB and when they were in town arranged a get together. It went well but on the second arranged get together I had a panic attack on my way to the meeting. There was a subtle feeling of dread, and I realized that the face to face exchange was probably going to be unpleasant and like a bashful school boy I cancelled, hurting feelings I fear. As I had shared certain stories that they enjoyed on FB , I felt I had to live up to some expectation. I’m sure this was pure fantasy on my part and I felt that I had age regressed. Networking makes me nervous.

When I was an actor and performed well on stage after the performance if I was introduced to strangers who liked me because of the performance I got disoriented. The dynamic person I appeared to be onstage was an arrangement by playwright, director and many others. Since I was a rather quiet and introverted guy, I could feel their disappointment.

In a way FB was another kind of act that I put on to entertain a bunch of strangers really. When I exited two months ago I felt an immediate clearing and the few times I have looked at FB the unnecessary desire to please or be smart feels exhausting.

When we have too many projections coming at us on FB and we aren’t able to clear ourselves we take things home with us in ways that are detrimental. You have to learn how to clear your aura of other people’s stuff.

I feel the conversations hosted here are more focused on what really interests me and I hope to pay attention to fewer people but with a lot more depth. Finding a center in the age of the Internet is not easy. And if you find your center why would you need FB?


(vanessa.d.fisher) #11

beautiful points, thanks John.


(Jim Trattner) #12

John,
Your self reflection is/was inspiring. If not anything else, FB provided a mirror for you to see who and what your more authentic self really wants. Sounds like a net gain to me. For me…I don’t get “out” much and prefer it that way. Social media is a convenient way to do what I used to enjoy which is evesdropping on people in restaurants, bars, parks, art galleries etc. my favorite pastime. I’m 78 years old and enjoy experiencing the future as it becomes the present. This site, right now, is contributing greatly to my education. Marco’s post on Zukerberg’s hypothetical presidency was especially well written and entertaining. It might just happen. What a concept.


(john davis) #13

Thanks Jim and I too enjoy eavesdropping on people. I’m grateful for the good times I had on FB and hope to develop some choice about the kinds of social media I engage. I find the conversations here quite lively!


(Sue Stevenson) #14

I was off FB for two years because the longstanding illness I have worsened, and being on there was the ultimate in mindfuckery. Brainfogged, overwhelmed, and yet at the same time frustrated at how shallow ist felt when several 2D avatars tried to have conversations. i

I’ve noticed a real difference since I returned. One, it’s so much quieter and two, it’s so much more guarded even than before. It’s like people’s personal walls are much quieter while groups are still thriving. Which wouldn’t be surprising - withdraw into tribal safety from the overwhelm that is everyone you know all at once responding to posts. An illness-related group was one of the primary reasons I rejoined as I realised that I needed support and the rest of the internet was like tumbleweeds because forums generally automatically migrate to FB now. (How glad I am that this group bucks the trend).

Someone on another group recently used the term “participation mystique” to describe most people’s FB participation. It fits really well. Maybe that explains why so many of my female friends on there are so tediously nice and apolitical and committed to promoting the wonders of their own personal brand’s child-bearing, house renovating and holidaying exploits. To continue participating in the sweet collective teat-suck, we must be good little corporatists in our brand-promotion.

Perhaps it wouldn’t feel any other way when sharing online, even if we weren’t now swimming in a social media soup that has monetised us for its own gain. I can’t help thinking though that the corporate FB is even more insidious in keeping us all enthralled to the status quo.

Which is why I am quite pleased that it’s appeared to lose its lustre for many. It’s a good thing to be disillusioned by FB. I am happy to be on there, but I know that ultimately the people who are my “friends” effectively dumped me when I was off there, so I see it now for what it is. Counterfeits can be much more fun when you know that’s what they are.


(john davis) #15

Sue I know how difficult it is to face transitions like illness and unemployment alone and I find that private/public divide a bit loose in these days as we enter a more transparent society. I have always wanted an Open Society, not a transparent one.

If everyone loved their neighbor it would be okay to be transparent but most people are looking for something else-hard to define but everyone is searching for something that is absent. It seems like the lonely hearts club.

I have never done on line dating and I used to go out more but I see most people are on their smart phones and it is probably just as well that we stay home. In the old days, I would meet people for coffee or go to a social event but most people who can do that are retired or unemployed. Economic stress has cut into leisure and friendships. Our communities are stressed. Working harder for less.

I guess I have given up all hope for reform and expect that our living arrangement will eventually collapse under the weight of so much duplicity. Over the years, I have seen well intention critiques clog the arteries. Trying to solve problems at the level of the problem creates more problems.

For me, I try to turn my attention away from the endless critiques and endless problem solving strategies and focus on what I want to have happen. As I am a bit odd and am not interested in what many people are interested in I have started to accept that I don’t fit well and just get on with it.

I do not wear for apparel what was intended as a curtain for the inmost soul.I take my operating procedures from the US military, special operations. Capture the high ground, stay in touch and keep moving-.


(Sue Stevenson) #16

“For me, I try to turn my attention away from the endless critiques and endless problem solving strategies and focus on what I want to have happen.”

I love this. I wander backwards and forwards between both camps, I guess. I can’t help trying to put the jigsaw puzzle pieces together, but then I give up and go and immerse myself in my innards.

I have just finished transcribing a forum for a health promotion foundation here in Australia. It was a forum about domestic violence whose audience was policymakers. As I was transcribing it I was just thinking about the complexity of a social situation, of how humans go about changing, of the role places like this have to play, of how much effect govt policies have on things and blah blah blah ongoing. Like a big tangled web of stuff.

What I found heartening at the end was that in a discussion about how to make good effective policy, one of the people they interviewed was a futurist. He was one of the last people they spoke to. The first was an Aboriginal elder when he did a Welcome to Country. Both talked about the connectedness of things with sense of the slightest of spiritual tinges that haven’t usually been allowed in forums such as this.

It gave me a great jolt of pleasure to see the start and the end of a forum permeated with an air of the big picture and the interconnectedness of all things. It was one of those senses that our world is shifting.

Weird where you find inspiration sometimes, isn’t it?

Anyway, maybe off topic. Rambling now, really :slight_smile:


(john davis) #17

That’s wonderful when that happens and it does happen. If we are looking for evidence that there is a shift we can find that evidence. We have our work cut out for us, for as we take on our own personal shadow, then the shadow of our culture, then shadow cast by our own species, all of these shadows entangled at many levels, we start to re-connect and re-embody the light in different ways, different capacities are developed, new alliances. I oscillate a lot, too, and I let go of my privacy while maintaining my solitude.

Finding rtyhyms between the old and new, sensing the new systems in the making, helping each other find that new foot hold as we collectively climb this impossibly tall mountain! It is a wonder isn’t it?

Sorry my metaphor of the mountain climb may not work but I think you get what I’m driving at. It is thrilling. I like putting the jig saw puzzle together too. We need all of these metaphors to capture the subtle, transitional shifts that are happening.


(Sue Stevenson) #18

“as we take on our own personal shadow, then the shadow of our culture, then shadow cast by our own species, all of these shadows entangled at many levels, we start to re-connect and re-embody the light in different ways, different capacities are developed, new alliance.”

Beautiful. Especially as i just watched Jordan Petersen talk about the shadow before reading your post.A little everyday synchronicity.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iDQ8DiP_Y_A

I do like very much what you say. All my half-integrated shadows have been nipping at my own heels lately. The thought that all of this collectiveand personal angst is actually for something is a good thought to go to bed and sleep on :slight_smile:


(john davis) #19

I feel unoriginal these days as our communication systems get more and more sophisticated at receiving and giving feedback. I hear echo of my own thoughts in the places around me, I sense the field effects as the individual and group dynamics are more fine tuned. There are bad actors and nefarious plots but inspite of all that our tiniest efforts to do something useful , our desire to offer aid to others, get amplified and all of this adds up!


(Marco V Morelli) #20

I’m taking flight! Leaping from the nest…hoping there’s a net somewhere out there, but who knows???