[iDC] Replacing Facebook (Geert Lovink)
sean at e-rat.org
Fri May 28 19:44:47 UTC 2010
i'm not sure if I'm doing this (sending a message to the list in
response to Geert) right, but here goes nothing.
there's a few too many question marks and exclamation points and
strident claims, but the form got the better of me.
FACEBOOK SUICIDE (BOMB) MANIFESTO
Everyone now wants to know how to remove themselves from social
networks. It has become absolutely clear that our relationships to
others are mere points in the aggregation of marketing data. Political
campaigns, the sale of commodities, the promotion of entertainment –
this is the outcome of our expression of likes and affinities. And at
what cost? The reward is obvious: we no longer have to tolerate
advertisements for things for which we have no interest. Instead our
social relations are saturated with public relations. But at least it
is all *interesting*!
Unlike the old days, when we could invent online identities daily, our
social networks today require fidelity between our physical self and
our online self. The situation is unbearable.
The frightening consequence of it all is that we believe in the value
of these networks. We understand perfectly well that our privacy is
being renegotiated without our consent; the rules are changing in
plain view; but we still participate! It is like a new form of money,
something we realize is a myth, but we act like it is real and that is
its power. We can’t leave because everyone else is there! Or because
we are invested in the myth ourselves.
The question is how do we extract ourselves from this predicament?
Recently, some programmers figured out how to computationally do
exactly this. By entering in your username and password, the software
would delete as much information as possible, ultimately removing the
account itself. It was a radical enough idea to attract the legal
attention of Facebook.
This software did not go far enough!
When someone disappears from Facebook, does anyone notice? Does this
software retroactively invalidate all of the marketing data that has
been collected from the account? Has this person de-dividuated
themselves? No, silence has not disrupted the system in the slightest!
Social networks need a social suicide. In the same way that 99.99999%
of users on Facebook don’t exist within the cloistered world of one’s
home page, an invisible user – one who has committed suicide – is
simply a non-factor in the constant and regular computational logic of
the thing. The answer isn’t silence, but noise!
Suicide on a social network is a matter of introducing noise into the
system. It spreads viruses and misinformation. It makes things less
interesting for others. It disrupts the finely calibrated advertising
algorithms on which suggestions are made – for friends, groups,
institutions, ideas, and so on. Social networking captures,
quantifies, and capitalizes on positive feedback. It records and
reproduces similarity. Oh yes, everyone is not watching one of three
mass-produced choices; but beneath all of the possibilities there is
only one choice! The one for you!
A roadmap for an effective Facebook suicide should do some of the
following: catching as many viruses as possible; click on as many
“Like” buttons as possible; join as many groups as possible; request
as many friends as possible. Wherever there is the possibility for
action, take it, and take it without any thought whatsoever. Become a
machine for clicking! Every click dissolves the virtual double that
Facebook has created for you. It disperses you into the digital lives
of others you hadn’t thought of communicating with. It confuses your
friends. It pulls all those parts of the world that your social
network refuses to engage with back into focus, makes it present again.
Invisibility comes in many forms, and on social networks it is the
form of a radical overload of information – a maximum participation.
No more thought, because every considered click adds to the
collaborative filtering algorithms that makes sure everyone continues
to like what they like, but in slightly modified form. Click
everywhere, click often, and don’t stop until you have disappeared
beneath a flood of meaninglessness.
This is a call for suicide, for the abandonment of seriousness and
belief. It is a call to reclaim ourselves from the sad version of
ourselves that lives in that bloodless village. Don’t become nothing,
the singular point defined by an absence, become everything, with
everyone else. Drown the system in data and make a new world in the
ruins that remain!
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