Post #15: The Zuckerberg Conundrum
Updated: Dec 8, 2021
I'll come right out and say it. I am vindicated! My deep-seated social media hatred - in particular, my instinctive revulsion for all things Facebook - was right on the money. Call me a Luddite if you will. Mr. Zuckerberg, I never wanted to join your gang.
Of course, this does not let me off the hook, social media-wise. I mean, Instagram is under Facebook's - oh, pardon, Meta's - umbrella, and I've been using Instagram as an excuse to not use Facebook. Plus, Instagram is evidently not good for kids and teens. Social media in general is not good for kids and teens. It messes up their brains and self-image.
So what's an author to do? I mean, I can't quit altogether, I'd never get a book published. I would be the hot potato every publishing house dropped. But even in the depths of my self-interest, I do worry about the welfare of kids and teens.
I'm not the only one in this boat, of course. Everyone is outraged (outraged, I tell you!) about the whole thing, but everyone also still expects to find information about their favorite businesses and recreational spots on Facebook. I'm sure all these politicians and pundits currently leading the crusade against Facebook also have Facebook pages. That's conventional wisdom, right? Meet the people where they are.
I read an article in the New York Times today that talked about solutions to the Facebook problem. Improve the anti-trust laws. Improve the Internet Safety Act. Axe Mark Zuckerberg. (I mean that figuratively, of course. Although others might not.) Create some sort of department that oversees Internet communications. Give Instagram and WhatsApp to other owners. Naturally, that last one is my personal favorite. I'd feel a little better about Instagram if somebody else was running it.
I'm not wild about the idea of a department to oversee Internet traffic, not because the idea itself is a poor one, but because I personally believe that anyone powerful enough to run an agency like that cannot be trusted. China is a fine example of everything that can go wrong when government controls the media. China and, you know, all those other times and places things went wrong when a government agency controlled the flow of information.
What nobody has bothered to say is, "Facebook is what it is because people are what they are, so we should do something about the way people view the Internet." I guess the consensus is that we can't. I suspect that's true. Humans aren't good at learning from their mistakes.
Still. I would like to see some pillars topple. I would like to see someone receive due punishment for breaking laws. I would like to see mergers broken. I would like to see, well... justice, and let me say, while I'm on my soapbox, justice isn't relative; it isn't in the eye of the beholder or the majority. It isn't following the law for the law's sake, either. Justice is that thing inside you that clenches its fists and locks its jaw when a wrong has been done.
I don't think we can make social media a good thing. But I do hope somebody will make Instagram better. It's self-interest, I know. Nothing glamourous about it. But here's the thing: it took two hard, terrifying years to write my book. I really want someone to publish it.