Monday, August 14, 2017

We are on Facebook

Black Mirror: Nosedive

(Nosedive full episode)

In the episode Nosedive,  Lacie is a woman living in a world where everybody continually rates their experiences with others online via a Smartphone related application.

And when your reputation as seen by others is trashed or marked down then your life becomes quite hard.

It's a sort of world where if you can imagine not being connected to Social Media is basically unthinkable. To be clear this is not the modern world we actually live in.  Even though some Facebook allergic people might use this episode of Black Mirror to contend that it is.

In the Olden Days

You might have lived in one small town or neighbourhood your whole life.  Friends and family stayed together in one location.  The odd person chose to move away,  but for the most part, with death being the principle accepted 'get out', you stayed put.

But today most of us don't have this luxury.  Some of us are sent to school hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away from our parents.  By the time we are 20 or 30 many of us have made significant friendships pehaps at college, or on an International vacation, with people who are geographically distant.

At the most basic level Facebook enables Marcus and Agata to communicate with; and stay upto-date with friends who are not local.   Based on our posts, friends know what is happening in our lives.

Not just the happy clappy stuff.

Our triumphs and failures.  Our setbacks.

Point to Point
There are other ways.  Point to point ways meaning a direct dialog between friends.   I can telephone, video call, email, Whatsapp.  The usual 2017 facilities.

But this is not a broadcast medium in general.  It just does not scale well.

We are on Facebook

Facebook is a convenient broadcast mechanism to stay in touch with your friends.

Friends who like you broadcast significant life events, feelings, and emotions suitable for public or friends or acquaintances to read  (you set your chosen audience in a post)

It is self regulating in the sense that if you begin to post views and opinions so far out of the mainstream that your chosen audience are continually offended or hurt they might well un-friend you.   This seems appropriate.  If their views and your views differ substantially it seems you are really not modern day friends with each other any more?

Make of It What you Will

Like any tool or service.  Facebook can be abused.  Here are some examples of behaviours that we would not condone

- Publishing hate speech
- Continual posts about how wonderful yourself you are
- Continual posts about how wonderful your children are
- General Self Aggrandisement
- Inferring that your life is 100% wonderful
- The joker publishing tens of funny stories or anecdotes daily.  If that is all you are posting we can just get this from a Google feed!

So, if friends show signs of the above you can

- Individually message them about their anti social behaviours'
- Selectively block them, so that they don't see your posts
- And that you don't see theirs
- You can unfriend them

Not Perfect
Facebook has its annoyances sure.  But no other mechanism we know of is

- Scalable: You reach many people, not point to point
- Available globally
- Zero cost to use
- The social media service that everybody else uses!

By saying no 'on principle' to Facebook you could claim to have the moral highground.  However, in the longer term your friends won't know what you are doing and vice versa.  And so without this connection, in what sense are you really friends?

Friendships needs to be nurtured, with a 2 way communication and interaction.  Facebook provides an accepted way, that does scale. We are not living in a Netflix Nosedive dystopian near future.  Get real, and join up.

Please and pretty please.