is not just another anti-Facebook piece.
The bottom line is, there’s no reason most people would have had occasion to notice that the internet died, because they weren’t content providers (as we call authors, artists, musicians, journalists, organizers, public speakers, teachers, etc. these days) in the pre-internet age or during the first decade or so of the internet as a popular phenomenon. And if you weren’t a content provider back then, why would you know that anything changed?
I and others like me know – because the people who used to read and respond to stuff I sent out on my email list aren’t there anymore. They don’t open the emails anymore, and if they do, they don’t read them.
I spent most of last week in Tokyo, going all over town, spending hours each day on the trains. Most people sitting in the trains back during my first visit to Japan in 2007 were sleeping, as they are now. But those who weren’t sleeping, seven years ago, were almost all reading books. Now, there’s hardly a book to be seen. Most people are looking at their phones. And they’re not reading books on their phones. (Yes, I peeked. A lot.) They’re playing games or, more often, looking at their Facebook “news feeds.” And it’s the same in the US and everywhere else that I have occasion to travel to.
Is it worth it to replace moderators with algorithms? Editors with white noise? Investigative journalists with pictures of your cat? Independent record labels and community radio stations with a multitude of badly-recorded podcasts? Independent Media Center collectives with a million Facebook updates and Twitter feeds?
I think not. But that’s where we’re at. How do we get out of this situation, and clear the fog, and use our brains again? I wish I knew.
Let me add another point. During the past few weeks, I've been doing some research (pursuant to one my many little projects) and several times tried to get in contact with authors to ask for follow-up information. Unfortunately, they could only be reached via Facebook. You can't send mail to a Facebook unless you yourself have a Facebook account, and you can't get a Facebook account unless you give a cell phone number, and that number can be used to track one's location. Anyone who gives out that information needlessly is an idiot.
If you're writer, please make it possible to be contacted by the public in some non-Zuckerberg fashion.
Also: No Twitter.