NER) – From the moment I heard of the new ‘Timeline’ strategy that Facebook would be introducing, I for one, immediately suspected that their new website format was contrived as a tool to attempt to manipulate users of the social medium toward destinations of their own corporate choosing. Preferably, as one might imagine, within the Facebook network. All merely, of course, for typically predictable reasons having to do with advertising schemes or financial potential. It was also not terribly difficult for me to surmise that such specific cyberspace destinations – would ideally and by default have to include the Facebook pages of major movie or music celebrities, famous sports figures, popular television personalities, and/or entrepreneurial, so-called ‘journalists’, etc.
I am sure in this day and age of glamour, glitter and glow, it’s not too tough for the reader of this document to follow my line of reasoning thus far?
To the validity of such ends as I describe, it has been reported recently by CNN, that unlike their continuing (apparently, second-class) user policy; which will obviously need to be left in place for all of the ordinary users of their network, Facebook has decided to do away with the requirement for celebrities or other popular individuals to make use of their medium solely under their birth name. According to the news report of which I cite for the purpose of this article, from this point forward it would appear that so long as a ‘celebrity’ can prove who they are to Facebook, then they would be handed some higher or more privileged status within the structure of the social medium, hierarchy, so to speak, which presumably, would also involve a unique variety of public mass consumption tools, fan conditioning functions or special perks.
For proof of such eventualities (which I hardly feel the need to produce), I offer a quote from CNN on this matter, which reads thus:
Celebrities, sports stars, journalists and the like who have been verified by Facebook will now get more prominent display on the site’s “People To Subscribe To” list.
Of course, the revelation (above), clearly raises the question – more prominent, as opposed to whom – to my mind, at least? And so the following question for me, would then seem to be..
As unlikely as it may seem to be for someone as publicly insignificant as myself to make any difference with respect to such matters, I nonetheless feel it a necessary thing to inform folks, in case it hasn’t become obvious enough to the 799 million ordinary Facebook users; most of whom, are currently been duped into believing that ‘Timeline’ is being instituted by some on-line media giant to somehow celebrate their existence or to enhance their pleasure, that, your new timeline – is purposely being implemented for nothing other than to facilitate the exercise of utter mediocrity on your part. First and foremost, of course, for corporate profit, yet, with a process so seemingly replete with such drastically and distractedly insignificant side-effects, so as to boggle the mind of anyone remotely cognizant of the self-centered shortcomings of human nature. How intimately or effectively might an individual focus their energy on the conditions or situations taking place in a world around them, even as they are consumed with the idea of some virtual public representation of oneself? This kind of question, I am afraid, seems enough to me for some future article in itself.
Does any average user of Facebook, seriously believe that their life’s story is of genuine interest to anyone than themselves, or barely perhaps, to a spouse or some close family member? And if so, haven’t you never once cringed to the reality of someone not so intimately involved with you, suddenly busting out a photo album at even some close communal gathering of some sort? Such inevitable boorishness, one might consider, is surely to be employable on a massive scale to whoever has the means to harness, generate and manipulate it. Which in turn, is to say, that for the sake of my argument, Facebook’s Timeline will only serve to send visitors to your corner of Facebook off to see what Madonna or Tim Tebow or Lady Gaga has been up to lately. And as one would easily have to assume, these very such individuals of public prestige or note, will only be more than happy to conspire and concert with Facebook to their mutual benefit, further glorification, and/or continuous profit.
Other than being a very efficent means of mass manipulation for those skilled in its exploitation, have you ever wondered why the practice of ‘nostalgia’, has become so prevalent in Western society, and especially in America? I daresay the supposition of a person reflecting on their past (their lost youth), inherently making them feel some sort of manufactured pleasure, and its being a powerfully enticing and welcome escape from the reality of their present existence – is explanation enough to suffice for me. Indeed, if one should ever care to confront the phenomena, I think it would be more than fair for any soul to conclude that an attraction toward nostalgia is a universal human condition. And so it is therefore that those who can somehow tap into this continuous well-stream of pointlessness through a broadcast medium of some sort, seem to do very well for themselves in American society.
Just one example, of which I speak, would go by the name of Simon Cowell. In this instance, we have a man with no discernible talent of his own to speak of, making himself a considerable fortune, while judging the performance of hopeful celebrity wannabe’s. How is it then, that this one, not particularly interesting or gifted man is in some way capable of amassing such an enormous audience for his whimsical profiteering – and fame for himself to boot? The logical answer it would seem to me, could only be through the means of using once popular, cover songs, of course. Creative works of the past – by people other than Cowell (or his waiting list of aspiring celebrities), which tend to mesmerize, attract and to remind people of more desirable days or happier times in their past. Music, as most folks should plainly realize, is an extremely powerful subliminal force, and a perfect avenue, if you will, for which to combine with some nostalgic master plan for commercial advantage. And If somehow you don’t agree, I will simply refer Americans to Madonna’s recent Superbowl performance, in which the nostalgic work of the performer took precedent over anything creatively current, by a ratio of 3 to 1, and was received, it seems, like some act of God – or Satan, perhaps, depending on one’s point of view of the artist herself.
The continuing success of and interest in people like Cowell or Madonna – rehashed ‘Batman’, ‘Superman’ films, television reruns of this, that or the other thing, etc and so on, one must assume, has certainly not escaped the attention of Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Facebook’ – or of his new Timeline enterprise, which the man would have his users believe, is purely about them. And in spite of what we are considering here is little more to something akin to the X-factor on steroids to me, the reality for most everyone else is that while the Zuckerberg life story, moves forward, at $6,000 per minute reportedly, your life story as a typical Facebook user, will at most, be moving backward.
All things considered, in my estimation at least, it is becoming clear that those who allow their thoughts or on-line activity to be directed in the future by some gigantic, opportunistic social media platform (which see’s their patrons as fodder to be manipulated in a particular direction or another), will be doing so at the risk of their own constant mental subjugation, communal powerlessness, and mediocrity. Upon on a grand sale that most average folks like myself for some reason, seem more than reluctant to consider, the social medium known as Facebook is fast becoming an instrument of social manipulation, which merely perpetuates the dumbing down of its users into an ineffectually compliant human commodity. And this reality, is minus the mining of personal data which Facebook users are subjected to, of course, which can be offered to the highest bidder and/or handed over to hyperactive government agencies.
In conclusion, even as I have personally resolved to leave the troubling monstrosity of Facebook behind me, I choose not be as nearly rude and insulting as Mr. Zuckerberg himself was, when once he reportedly referred to all of his Facebook user’s as “dumb fucks”. Instead, I will simply remind whomever cares to listen, that ‘time’; being something of a canvas for the future, moves in a singular direction, and is hardly some portrait of the past.
by R.F. Goggin (Contributing Author)