Sunday, May 30, 2010

Strong Opinions from Above

A cavalier, devil-may-care insouciance famously comes more easily to some than to others -- casual declarations on the conditions aboard slave ships no doubt came rather easily to wealthy antebellum southern "gentlemen," the travails and pains of combat seem to flow with uncanny ease from the rhetoric of men who couldn't find the time to sign up when their time came.

All of which brings me, naturally, to the status of individual privacy, autonomy, and integrity as seen from the mountain of gold from which Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, regards the world:

The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly ... Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.
In a way, the most appropriate reaction to this is exactly the one I would prefer to run with: fuck you, Mark Zuckerberg, you cocooned little piece of shit. But the truth is, I need to qualify that, because, gawd knows, I need to sell my labor if I want to keep living in a house rather than in cardboard boxes, and this means I need to keep one eye on my honest assessments of current affairs and the other on what happens to people who speak too freely.

There are alternatives, of course. I could say nothing, the easiest means of which is to think nothing. In turn, this means taking everything exactly as given, asking no questions, and eschewing controversies -- learn to laugh at 2-1/2 Men, subscribe to Newsweek, collect Celine Dion and Kenny G CDs, buy all the Transformers sequels in all the new disk formats as they come out, ask my doctor about exactly the pills that those endless ads on the network nightly news are always instructing us to ask our doctors about, render unto Caesar, cheer for the home team, and quietly die without having ever even tried to step out of bounds on anything.

Alternatively, I could assemble, piece by hard-won piece, the experience and wisdom that makes a person an authority on a particular subject. For example, if I wished to push the limits on questions of individual privacy, integrity, and autonomy, I could become a zillionaire founder of a software company with a financial stake in particular conclusions.

Privacy and integrity mean and function more or less as Mark Zuckerberg portrays them if you subtract the reality of inequalities of rank, social power, and wealth. If everyone were somehow a 26-year-old zillionaire, it might well seem peculiar, and indeed suspicious, to see people erecting barriers between "work friends" and friends, or between "social networks" and personal networks, or between "one's online persona" and one's everyday personality.

Because not everyone sees the world from that mountaintop, the first answer works after all: fuck you, Mark Zuckerberg.

1 comment:

apophaticattic said...

Amen, brother. "Fuck you" indeed.