On the bright side, at least restarting my laptop only takes about a minute these days.
Facebook and Zuckerberg didn’t realize this was the end state because it wasn’t what they envisioned with the original mission. It has blinded them. Connecting people is good! Right? But, as it turns out, it’s not. It sounds good. We all want it to be good. But it’s a fucking disaster. Because humanity is a disaster.
That’s too harsh but you get my point. It’s the one Facebook cannot escape and could never escape. Unlike many, I don’t view them as some nefarious organization — as a bunch of James Bond villains sitting around a table plotting the end of humanity. But their tool created to connect everyone even with the best intentions (we can argue about the “growth at all costs” side of this equation — obviously there weren’t only the best intentions) was long ago usurped. They miscalculated. And we’re all now living with the results of that. And it has painted Facebook into a corner.
Literally anyone who has ever gotten any large group of people together in the same space could tell you that the more people you have interacting with one another, the more difficult it becomes to manage those interactions, and the greater the chance that a jerk in the crowd is going to start ruining the experience for anyone else.
My guess is that Zuckerberg and his ilk didn’t bother asking and didn’t care to listen whenever anyone trying to tell them, because for a long time, that’s what they wanted to believe. Mostly privileged white kids, they really thought that if you just get everyone together, to will all work out fine. And if it doesn’t work out fine, that’s not your problem; the people just didn’t do a good enough job “connecting.”
Now that they are a huge company sitting on top of billions and billions of dollars, it’s not in their interest to listen or to care. The only path to success for a company in our economy is to keep growing, and for a platform like Facebook, that means to keep adding users. The more users they have, the more data they can harvest, and the more advertising they can sell.
Facebook can’t stop growing, because our economic system doesn’t give them that option. They can’t change their behavior or do too much to increase the friction on connection, because that is what fuels their growth.
None of this is an excuse or a justification for the the people who run Facebook, or even the people that work there. Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg and Nick Clegg are all ostensibly human beings. They have a moral responsibility as humans who live in a society with other humans, and they are failing.
The way to fix Facebook is for it to no longer be Facebook. Stop growing, break up, stop trying to jam billions of people together and hoping they all just get along. To do so would require that the people at the top of Facebook make very specific choices, that they decide to be a different type of company in a different type of business.
Short of that, it’s going to take large-scale government action. We’re not talking tweaking around the edges here, or small changes to the business model, or minor oversight from the FTC or the FCC. We’re talking “Your company doesn’t exist anymore and the business model you used to make a profit is no longer possible”-style changes.
Live music is pretty great.