Why it’s Facebook’s fault 2016 sucks
2016 has been a remarkably shitty year. You know it, I know it, and the despondent recluses that populate the web with irrepressibly shit memes know it.
This year, supposed ‘terrorism’ amplified to the extent a presidential candidate suggested a blanket ban on an entire hemisphere of people, probable virgins dressed as clowns ruined childhoods across the Earth, the wealthy concocted impressively evil ways to segment and fingerblast the peasant-classes, and Zika, Syria, Isis, Trump, Thiel, Shkreli, White Lives Matter, Harambe, Brexit also defecated on the good times too.
Furthermore, too many zeitgeist contributors kicked the bucket, a Stardust, a Genie, a Prince, a Lemmy, a Snape, a Chekov, a Wilder, an Astromech, The Greatest’, a Ronnie, a Drinker, a Wogan, and more. It seems as if fate’s PA absent-mindedly penned in too many atrocities in the 2016 schedule.
As a matter of fact, 2016 is no worse than 2015 or 1990, it’s definitely better than 1891 or 1066 — they were very shit.
An unending queue of abounding incidents have turned our hearts to stone — to the extent that a call to use gunboats to mince migrants fleeing a war (the west partly caused) as they drown in the Mediterranean, can gain popular support in the UK’s most second popular tabloid newspaper, The Sun, which sold just short of Andrex Double Ply, heather scented arse wipes, due to an unfortunate salmonella outbreak in the midlands. There’s always been war, famine, recession, as directed by aristocratic cum wads who profit from fanning the flames of destruction.
Social media arguably serves as a problematic periscope, catalysing the depersonalisation, polarisation and marginalisation of humanity. Despite its many fine points, it largely serves as shit-tinted glasses, corrupted the world by painting it in absolutes.
Like the haunted caverns of hell, it hosts the collective torment of a society on a collision course with disaster, and behind all the cat, baby, food and minion pictures, there’s a primal sense we all know it. It functions as well as a vessel for hundreds of billions of micro-interactions can in a rapidly advancing society powered by the production and consumption of finite, and increasingly unnecessary goods.
To put it simply. Everything is Facebook’s fault. I’m going there, I’m shooting the messenger.
Two thirds of US adults on Facebook used it as a primary source for news consumption in 2016, according to Pew Research. Globally, it accumulated 1.65bn monthly active users, roughly the population of China and the United States combined, give or take a few vastly populated cities. Through it, hundreds of millions of the most affluent, digitally-aligned people gorge on news.
Where previously a diverse streams of news, events, incidents, voices, images, trends and traditions influenced and inspired us on a regional and local level, now for the first time in human history, we share a lens through which we perceive, and thus shape the world — and with average time spent on the network globally increasing from 40 mins in July 2014, to 50 minutes in Q1 2016, we’re only becoming more immersed. Addicted even?
There isn’t a universal truth when each of the planet’s unique inhabitants experience separate existences, they absorb the facts and reports that shape them in a more fragmented way.
But, as is increasingly becoming the case, Facebook is becoming the sole vendor of information, drawing from a limited puddle of media outlets collectively lowering the bar by adopting the (they’re blocking our ads, we’re going to die) model. The homogenisation of information creates an ever-dangerous universal truth (only made worse by the fact it’s a very privileged few curating these reports).
What’s worse, Facebook has stepped back from what news trends on its network, sacking the skeleton team responsible for the maintenance and curation of the site’s editorial klout earlier this year. Surprise, surprise, immediately fake news started reaching millions of users. Having established supremacy as a new source, it then refuted any responsibility for the accuracy of the reports reaching its users, it now hopes to police the (incorrect) universal truths it is spouting with an algorithm…
Shitty things happen every day — and bad news sells newspapers (at least it bloody used to) read up on ‘Shakespearean tragedy’ — this is what moves us. If uplifting events were likely to spark clicks rather than contempt, envy and distrust we’d be in a much better place. But we’re human and we only really, in our heart of hearts, like it when the good stuff happens to us.
Our self-governing Facebook trending bar drip feeds us sports, entertainment and reality TV, but mother’s milk is souring. A much more palatable proposition for the company is the proliferation of video snippets; these will be deployed to rebalance the outlook of users after the death of a famous person — a reliable staple is the uplifting animal videos because it’s easier for us to personify dumb (and admittedly bloody adorable) animals than it is those on the fringes of society, the homeless, refuges, NON-WHITE PEOPLE, addicts and whoever the fuck else is marginalised.
And on the subject of addicts, sure, Facebook is now capable of internationally inflicting a catatonic state of mourning upon its billions, when a pop culture icon dies, much like North Korea upon Kim Jong Ill’s timely demise, without the mustache-swirling villainy, probably. But unlike North Korea, we actually have a choice how we view the world. We don’t need to rely on Facebook.
Go outside, talk to an old person, climb a hill, drink with the mentally ill, read a well written news report that’s not been excruciatingly tailored to the widest, dumbest possible audience on Facebook. Plant a tree, read a fucking book, breath in the world and reach your own conclusions, understanding that your truth is limited solely to you.
There’s a world out there beyond your social network, beyond the confines of the social cage you entered probably to semi-stalk a high-school crush and now half-heartedly populate with ‘Pint time Lads *Thumbs up emoji* as part of an unspoken obligation to remind your mum you’re still alive (It’s easier than phoning her innit?).
Yes 2016 is shit. But take solace in the fact that 2017 will be even shittier as you have to experience the Trump Civil War, the Brexit Bake Off holocaust and numerous other hopefully fictitious cataclysms in full 360 virtual reality video on Facebook.
Sorry, that’s all I’ve got. It’s not much, but its more than I had before I started writing this.