Facebook: From the Shallow End to the Deep (But Not Really)
By John Kendal Hawkins *
November 1, 2021
I never meta man I didn’t Like.
-Will “Jolly” Rogers, toilet stall wall, Topeka
I’m sick of Facebook.
And I don’t even have an active account. Sick of hearing about Likes. Sick of seeing folks everywhere scrolling in mid-feeds like chattel cattle. Sick of timelines that Ed Snowden sees as part of the Permanent Record that will one day contain evidence of our criminality, retroactively, and by algorithmic policing. It’s depressing: I know lots of good people who have such oxycontin-like accounts and I worry that by the time they discover “It’s a Cookbook,”(*) they’ll already be on their way to the intergalactic rotisseries (humans apparently taste like chicken: finger lickin’ goodness). Fuck Facebook.
Meta as opposed to physical. Face, facetious, fecetious, facile, Facebook. Skin deep goes deep skin. Meta. Physical. Metaphysical. Beyond the mere biologicality of our physical beings is a metacognition, a consciousness of being, a transmigration of hive-minded souls to a Neurana existence. The bliss of the one and many rivers. But it’ll be the same old tappy-tap of fingers dancing on the keyboard The June Taylor Dancers, no doubt bringing new rushes of feralmoans and standing ovulations, but the same loneliness of the many folded into the one. You. Remember how sad and washed out they looked in last year’s Oscar-winning film, Nomadsland, Frances McDormand migrating from region to region, catching up with fellow free migrants at campsites in the middle of desert landscapes for pep talks, transferring her work from one Amazon Fulfillment Center to another? No? Keep the line moving, they say in baseball lingo — or you’re fired, they say in Amazon lingo. Cancelled, in the parlance of our day.
A while back Google changed its name to Alphabet, or, rather, became just one building block in the parent company, at that time execked by Eric Schmidt. Not long afterward Jared Cohen, a Google wonk who interned at the State Department under Condi and then Hillary, became the head cheese of Google’s think tank, Jigsaw, which, back in 2016, whose mission was described by USA Today:
Jigsaw will invest in and build technology to address humanity’s most intractable problems, from countering violent extremism to online censorship, to expand[ing] access to information for the world’s most vulnerable populations and to defend[ing] against the world’s most challenging security threats
Raise your hand if you would have guessed that was Google’s mission in our lives. In the same USA Today piece, another intrigue worth bearing a watchful eye: “Pope Francis to meet Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt.” Hmph.
Schmidt and Cohen wrote a book together: the bestselling The New Digital Age. I wrote a review of TNDA as a subplot of my review of Julian Assange’s When Google Met Wikileaks. I’m glad to say that Assange worked them over pretty good in their interview and in a NYT op-ed (“The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’”) when TNDA came out. Cohen and a state department rep had visited Assange when he was under house arrest in 2011 in England (just before he skipped town to the Ecuadorian embassy), and a major topic that came up was the radical transparency of government that Assange championed versus the Magister Ludi privileged-few approach that Cohen and Hillary’s state department favored. Cohen, Google and Hillary feared the influence Assange was having on university-aged activists and co-opted a group of them from Movements.org. This meeting of minds, including the input of the corporate media, is described here.
Speaking of changing names for PR purposes, the original title TNDA was Empire of the Mind. This is a telling title for a world-controlling organization. And, really, it’s what Facebook is up to — boldly, taking the bull by the horns and declaring itself the present and future emperor of the metaphysique of time and mental space. For me, nothing highlighted the difference between the future world Assange envisions (requiring, he says, encryption to guard against state and corporate theft of people’s privacy) and the presumptuous and bourgeois vision that Schmidt and Cohen describe.
They are both big on interactive technologies and mindlessly talk about how “everyone in the future will own a robot.” Aside from the dreadful new master-slave regimen this idea supports, the built-in assumption — surely — is that the future has no poor people. Only rich fuck monkeys can afford to buy robots. Here, Schmidt tosses us a bit about how he’d deal with his spoiled brats with holographic boxes in the den:
Worried your kids are becoming spoiled? Have them spend some time wandering around the Dharavi slum in Mumbai.
The fucking arrogance of that rhetorical question. Don’t try to “fix” the problems of Dharavi; just remind your tikes that there but for the disgrace god go they.
It’s interesting (isn’t it?) that hot on the highheels of the Facebook name change is whistleblower Frances Haugen’s allegations of lives ruined by the platform heel Mark Fuckerberger and his arrogant need to control lives. (Raise your hand if you think the timing is suspect and rehearsed. Okay, now, touch your nose with your other index finger.) Nobody really believes that Haugen’s anything but a floozy (follow her money). Glenn Gleanglog has the best, most trenchant account of her dubious battle with truth-telling before Congress (does anyone tell them the Truth anymore??? Do they ever tell the Truth: Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein’s husbands have separate banks accounts, so the inside information on Covid stock trading is okay??? Fuck it. How do I testify: I’ve got a few things to say.)
Gleanglog compellingly argues in “Democrats and Media Do Not Want to Weaken Facebook, Just Commandeer its Power to Censor” that Haugen is a plant, ironically put in her position by the social media themselves to create moderator laws that would force independent platforms out of business. Check out his reasoning. Matt Taibbi also lays the leather on Haugen’s claims with “The Awesome Hypocrisy of the “Facebook Papers” Moral Panic.”
A while back I reviewed The Social Network which goes into far greater detail about how Facebook and the other social media platforms are essentially colluding to control our lives. Here’s an excerpt that sums up some of the dangers we all face moving ahead:
And in closing, my beloved readership (yean, you), let me just add that You are the Kindest, Bravest, Warmest, Most Wonderful Human Beings I’ve Ever Known in My Life. I mean that most sincerely. You like me, you like me, I can feel it. And I like you, too.
* John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia. He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.