Sometimes I’ll get a call or email from someone five years after the last contact and I’ll think, oh right, I hated that person. But they would never have known, of course. Let’s see if I still hate them. Very often I find that I don’t. Or that I hated them for a dumb reason. Or that they were having a bad day. Or much more likely, that I had been having a bad day.
People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is.
I don’t care if Mike Brown was going to college soon. This should not matter. We should not have to prove Mike Brown was worthy of living. We should not have to account for the ways in which he is suitably respectable. We should not have to prove that his body did not deserve to be riddled with bullets. His community should not have to silence their anger so they won’t be accused of rioting, so they won’t become targets too.
While I expected that what I saw might change, what I never expected was the impact my behavior would have on my friends’ feeds. I kept thinking Facebook would rate-limit me, but instead it grew increasingly ravenous. My feed become a cavalcade of brands and politics and as I interacted with them, Facebook dutifully reported this to all my friends and followers.
That first night, a small little circle with a dog’s head popped up in the corner of my phone. A chat head, from Facebook’s Messenger software! The dog turned out to be my old WIRED editor, John Bradley. “Have you been hacked,” he wanted to know. The next morning, my friend Helena sent me a message. “My fb feed is literally full of articles you like, it’s kind of funny,” she says. “No friend stuff, just Honan likes.” I replied with a thumbs up. This continued throughout the experiment. When I posted a status update to Facebook just saying “I like you,” I heard from numerous people that my weirdo activity had been overrunning their feeds. “My newsfeed is 70 percent things Mat has liked,” noted my pal Heather. Eventually, I would hear from someone who worked at Facebook, who had noticed my activity and wanted to connect me with the company’s PR department.
There are a lot of interesting things in this article about the effects of “liking everything” on FB. But far as I’m concerned, that last sentence is really the gem.(via slavin)
If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.
I’m working to find other folks who might be like minds with me / Womanzine. These people / publications / orgs would consider themselves to be experimental, digital publishers (in the format/platform sense; not content). So far, I think that includes Symbolia, Triple Canopy, even 29th Street Publishing. Who else would you add to that list??
On the surface it’s aims are laudable Every one of us. Everywhere. Connected, it is set up to serve people such as the farmers and students I’ve met on this trip, those who will significantly benefit from basic connectivity. The sentiment of my peers, including conversations with some Facebook employees is that Internet.org’s intent is closer to Every one of us. Everywhere. Connected to Facebook. Feeding the Beast, a solution to a growth strategy that was hitting natural limits, and a flag in the distant sands for stock-vested troops to charge towards.
There’s something to be said for being able to record an experience you’ve liked, or being able to obtain a recording of it.
Closure is an illusion, the winking of the eye of a storm. Nothing is completely resolved in life, nothing is perfect. The important thing is to keep living because only by living can you see what happens next.