I Hate You, Mark Zuckerberg
Let me tell you why I hate Mark Zuckerberg. It’s nothing personal, I assure you. He did nothing to cheat me out of millions of dollars by stealing my business or ideas out from underneath me. In fact, I’m not really sure he ever did those things. But he is the CEO and co-founder of Facebook and that, my friends (real friends or just my Facebook friends) is more than enough for me.
It is also not that he has more money than God, although God did call to tell Mark that he wants his private beach and diamond-encrusted reflection pool back. I am not enough of a socialist to begrudge Zuckerberg his wealth. Rather what I find so disconcerting about this heathen is that he has unleashed an unquenchable plague upon us, a new form of communication that is really just an ironic contradiction in terms.
I remember years ago now when my buddy Jeff told me I needed to join Facebook. It seemed harmless enough. I had never done much social media, at least not the really hard stuff. But that’s when things changed. Suddenly, like so many other folks who casually experimented with social media only to become instantly hooked, I became so addicted to checking out my Facebook updates and messages that even meth heads at the train station told me I needed help.
The next thing I knew, I was reading with avid assiduity about people’s backyard BBQ’s, family get-togethers, and burgeoning progeny. I spent countless hours pouring through the posts of people I had not spoken to for years, fervently liking or commenting on activities I had absolutely no part in. And then something funny happened. I realized I didn’t give a damn. I didn’t care that the guy I sat next to in 5th grade was taking his kids to the zoo. I didn’t care that my second cousin once removed was having his molar teeth pulled later this week. And I sure as hell didn’t care my ex-girlfriend from high school was going through a messy divorce she somehow deemed essential for everyone to know the intimate details of. It may have taken an intervention or a life-changing epiphany, but one way or another, I finally realized I just didn’t care.
Which is not to say that I don’t see a purpose to Facebook. I do. I use Facebook to promote my writing and to stay in touch with people I actually care about. The capacity of social media for marketing purposes is only now beginning to be fully explored, and I, for one, am more than happy to mine those resources. With social media comes the ability to send your message to thousands of followers from around the globe. Individuals have an unprecedented vehicle for communicating their thoughts to an outside world that had previously not provided the medium for articulating their inner voice. But isn’t that also part of one of its greatest drawbacks? Because Facebook is an open forum for expressing oneself without a significant filter, isn’t it also a dumpster for the collection of all the stupid and crazy crap that people you know have to say? We all have that one friend who spouts out some ridiculous nonsense every week or two, especially during the election cycle. And then you remember you hated them back in high school too.
And you know who really hates Facebook? Employers. Social media is the most prolific time suck since the invention of daytime television. How many hours of productivity have been lost to employees updating their status with shady pictures from their debaucherous weekend? More than I care to enumerate.
In the end, what I find so fascinating about the entire Facebook phenomenon is that the tool that revolutionized how we communicate with one another was conceived by a classic introvert. If you read anything about Zuckerberg, you know that there are competing theories regarding his personality and business ruthlessness, but one factor remains constant: Mark Zuckerberg is often uncomfortable around people. While perhaps not a pure misanthrope, his interactions with others are stilted and impersonal. Outside of his immediate family, he struggles to invest himself fully in human relationships. And this is the guy who changed the way we interact with each other.
If you think about it, Facebook is a mirror of Zuckerberg’s own personal difficulties with interpersonal communication. While it opens up an avenue to sharing oneself, it does so in limited, fractional bits. We spend a moment checking in, perhaps reading through a blurb you’ve written (though probably we just flipped through the pictures), and then move on. Our contact with our “friends” is brief, our emotional investment in their well-being confined to a simple “like”. Nothing ventured, nothing lost- isn’t that how the saying goes?
And yet how many times have we all watched people reading through posts, updating their status, etc.- all while their real friends or family are sitting right there in front of them? This restricted form of communication has usurped actual dialogue as the way we interact with each other. I recently talked both my father and my girlfriend, two of the last persistent hold-outs, into joining Facebook so that I could send them pictures and have them share my blog and novel excerpts. Somehow I now feel dirty, like a common drug peddler working the streets. Perhaps I should tell them that they should delete their accounts. Well, right after they share this article….
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com