Saturday, April 2, 2016

The World According to Facebook


Last Sunday, Mark Zuckerberg posted this to his Facebook page. It was almost certainly a veiled attempt to respond to criticisms that Facebook had slightly bungled its "Safety Check" feature--sending the "Are you safe?" message to millions of Facebook users who had no connection to the city of Lahore, and then withdrawing it without explanation.
This morning we activated Safety Check in Pakistan after a bomb targeted children and their families in a park in Lahore. Over the last two months, we have activated Safety Check several times for acts of terror -- including in Turkey and Belgium -- so people in the area can let their friends and loved ones know they're safe. 
Each of these attacks was different, but all had a common thread: they were carried out with a goal to spread fear and distrust, and turn members of a community against each other. 
I believe the only sustainable way to fight back against those who seek to divide us is to create a world where understanding and empathy can spread faster than hate, and where every single person in every country feels connected and cared for and loved. That's the world we can and must build together.
Let me first say that I think Safety Check is a great idea, and if they sent it out to too many people this time or confused a few of them (including me), I couldn't really care less. It is to be expected that there will be occasional minor glitches like this and there will presumably always be room for improvement on how to make it work better. That's fine.

I'm more disturbed by the second two paragraphs, If "disturbed" is the right word. "Bemused" is probably more appropriate.

I think it is reasonable to say that the last two paragraphs constitute a sort of worldview. I want to flesh it out. And I'm going to be fair about it:
The world is made up of communities (so begins my interpretation of Zuckerberg's worldview) and of course all the communities together make up one big community. In each community there are members of different races, nationalities, religions, genders, sexual orientations and various other categories.  
Within them, there are good people and bad people. Good people recognize other people's differences but also recognize that those differences are not morally significant. Or to clarify, they are morally significant to those who have them or embody them, as they should be, but we should not make moral judgments about those people based on those differences. Bad people fixate on the differences and want to brand some of them as "bad." Indeed, it's worse than that, as one of the goals of bad people is to convert good people to their side by somehow getting them to go along with that branding-of certain-differences-as-bad thing.
Another way of putting this is that there is love and there is hate. Love consists largely in treating the above differences as unimportant. Hate consists of the opposite. Among the haters are racists, sexists, religious supremacists or bigots, nationalists, homophobes and so on. 
But all is not lost. Bad people aren't precisely to blame for being bad, since they generally get their badness from observing other bad people, or perhaps being earlier victims of bad people. Or again to put it another way, they were taught--directly or indirectly--how to hate. 
But if people can learn how to hate, they can also learn how to love. The answer is therefore to spread love. Only when most people feel loved, will the cycle of hate--and yes, it is a cycle--be broken. 
This is a worthwhile and attainable goal, and Facebook will of course play its part in helping to achieve it.
Before anyone accuses me of presenting Zuckerberg's views inaccurately or in a biased manner, let me again say that the object is to be fair. Indeed, I think I've been more than fair. For example, in his Facebook post, Zuckerberg claimed that war and conflict will only end when "every single person in every country feels connected and cared for and loved." Thinking that it would be possible to satisfy that goal is of course absurd and insane. Thus I changed it to "most people." I think that makes the view more reasonable.

So what are we to say of Zuckerberg's view?

Whatever else we might say, this much is true:

It is the worldview of a child.

This child has control over much of the world's communications and is one of its world's richest human beings. It is not an exaggeration to say that he is also one of the world's most powerful human beings.

This is not the worldview of your hippy dippy third-grade teacher. It is the worldview of an eight-year old of average intelligence who is trying to make sense of things after having been taught for a year by your hippy dippy third-grade teacher.

We've largely entrusted the free flow of information to that.

Don't ask what that says about us.

Now, anyone with any human feeling must acknowledge that there is at least an atom of truth in Zuckerman's worldview, as there usually is in any childish theory. Among other things, Christians should acknowledge that it at least superficially contains elements of Christ's own example as well as certain features of His commands to us. Of course we should love, or at least try to love one another, and all things being equal, the more love there is the better. We should spread it around, as they say, as much as possible.

But in practical terms, that alone is not going to stop ISIS or stop Europe from spiraling into bloody anarchy, bloody authoritarianism, civil war or (probably in that order) all three.

For the record, I don't think Zuckerberg is an evil man. But in his childishness, he has become a collaborator with evil men.

And that's not an April Fools joke.

1 comment:

  1. God bless you, You are far more charitable towards this useful idiot than I am.