Echo chambers: Is Facebook making us stupid?
James Faz
263

I’m pretty vocally anti-Facebook at this point. But I think you’re overstating the trend: did Facebook make people stupid? No. Stupid people found Facebook. Also: people who make money off stupid people (boner pill pushers, scammers, conspiracy theorists, etc.) quickly followed. The result is, there is an ecosystem of stupidity: there are the stupid, and there are the predators who live off the stupid.

The real problem with Facebook itself — and, I should add, with just about every online social network (including this one) and going back to the era of AOL chatrooms — is really the established roadmap for technology companies:

  • Start a website
  • Scale
  • ?
  • PROFIT!!!

In Facebook’s case, “?” is “sell consumer data for targeted marketing.” The problem is, smart people know the difference between content and advertisement. Smart people install Adblock. Smart people don’t click everything they see. Smart people don’t follow a billion idiotic pages based off recommendations.

Smart people are, in fact, a drag on Facebook’s revenue model.

Stupid people, on the other hand, have fallen for just about any trick in the book. Stupid people take quizzes, play Farmville, watch freebooted videos ripped off from YouTube and think they’re original content, and buy Starbucks on friends’ birthdays with their credit cards. Stupid people buy tons of fake Jordans and Laboutins.

Stupid people are, in fact, what powers Facebook nowadays — much like humans in vats power the Matrix.

Which brings us to the next problem for Facebook: once they quit social networks, smart people become founders of new social networks. Zuckerberg wasn’t content to be on MySpace after all.