Doesn’t Facebook just feel like a massive crowdsourcing exercise these days? By that, I mean it’s now less a social network, and more a marketing tool. WE ARE ALL MARKETING TOOLS, vessels for opinion sourcing and market research. Ain’t it great?
Ok, so maybe I’m being a bit overdramatic. But think about it. Our desires, wants and personalities are constantly being categorised, using the simplistic binary of ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. What makes you ‘you’ is being drawn from which bands you like, which pages you subscribe to, what posts you comment on. Our online social world has become the world, our actual selves. We have started believing what Facebook says about us, and suggests to us. We become that statistic; that demographic we supposedly belong to. And we don’t even care, because we want to experience being in a collectivity of like-minded, cool individuals.
I don’t know about you, but that intuitive advertising that comes up on the right side of the screen really freaks me out. A lot of the time, the stuff that comes up there is something I’m actually interested in, and I have to fight with myself not to succumb to it, because I don’t want to be just another click, and give in to what Facebook tells me I like.
Seriously, it just feels like a massive hypermarket. You can buy things, and ‘like’ supermarkets in exchange for the chance to ‘give your views’ and receive a crappy coupon in exchange. Do you know how much those views and details you’re giving out are worth? A hell of a lot more than a 50p off voucher; you’re signing away your soul (and your email address and phone number).
Those details you give out don’t just disappear. They stay there; they become public property (or a least, corporate property). Have you heard of big data? It’s the stuff of an online social media mogul’s wet dreams. It is, in essence, everything we do online; every bit of data shared, created, transmitted, streamed or uploaded. It’s huge, and there are whole teams of people using analytics to use it to connect with customers and make business decisions. Be careful what you click; the FBI is doing this shit too! The mind boggles.
All that being said, don’t delete your account just yet. Facebook has a lot of good points. Although it reeks of a shallow ‘surveillance society’ (where we all watch each other, and corporations watch us watching each other), it’s a really useful tool. And these days, if you don’t have it, you’re going to get really left out. At university, you will add everyone you meet on Facebook, just so you can keep track of the hundreds of new people you come into contact with. You will post pictures of nights out so you can get all nostalgic with your friends about how much fun you had, thus strengthening your bond. And Facebook is fun. Have you not played The Sims on Facebook yet?? And it can be useful for getting in touch with employers (although Twitter is becoming increasingly effective for that kind of thing).
So, yes, I’ve been getting sick of Facebook, and I am so jealous of the people who have deleted it. But I also know that I couldn’t live without it, at least for now…
So what do you think? Is Facebook an evil genius trying to steal our social souls, or the most exciting way to stay interconnected in a fast paced world?