Prompted by the announcement of an “Ello Pride Day” and a protest against Facebooks “real” name policy i had vainly hoped might be somewhat more … how shall i say? … fundamentally critical i recently commented:
- It is not just an enforcer of gender rules.
- It also an active player in military reconnaissance and economic espionage in a world wide war arising out of the decades (centuries if one so will) old Western desire for global dominance.
Nor is FB otherwise without an “agenda”:
- FB plays an active role in relativizing and trivializing serious concerns framing them in a context of social pitter-patter consumable in bland, mouth-sized portions.
- The platform is studiously de-sexualized reducing sexually mature individuals to childrens’ programming style eunuchs.
- And last but by far not least FB brings the business of maintaining and creating de novo economic expectations and competition typical of the milieu in which FB arose, the US upper-middle class, to every corner of the digitally connected/digitally literate world.
FB is well within their rights to do all of these things, but the near monopoly in the area of social media, and their inaccurate self-representation as culturally, economically, socially neutral once again reinforces the belief that something is “the norm” that really is simply the culture and way of life of one small, very powerful (read: “influential” if it sounds less conspirative) group.
FB is far from being just a medium, and is not just weird about people using one name or another. FB is a power-player in our new globalized world, and an active opinion-maker in what sensationalist like to call the “Neo-Liberal” project.
FB is (along with many other) part of global power network, and is thereby answerable not only for injustices toward those of us who feel uneasy with gender duality, and silly name conventions, but also those directly targeted by Western military action, those held in economic precarity in order to provide inexpensive goods to Western markets, as well as toward an endless-seeming list of people who are either unwilling, or unable to participate in what ever life-style happens to be en vogue among the higher income set in the West at the moment.
FB is “the man”, if you will.
To get one Facebook “criticism” out of the way right away. With all of the people clambering to be products in one way or another and calling the achievement there of “success”, i can find little sympathy in me for the cry: The worst thing about FB is that one is their product. I am among other things “a product” (Facebook’s or otherwise) whether i find the idea flattering or not. I alone decide to which extent i can be made arable for consumer society, as i decide what extent i consume, and must be prepared to live with the consequences of my non-participation. If i do not make conscious choices on how i “sell” myself, or “buy into” one thing or another, i cannot fault an online platform for my own lack of personal integrity.
That being said:
Since the day i learned there was "a difference" i have minded being “gendered”. Furthermore, never having felt like a person whose identity could be cleanly disconnected from the current situation i was in, i have never felt like an in-dividual. So it follows logically that names were always very much a matter of who i was to whom and vice versa, as well as where and when.
I share the annoyance and misgivings about gender politics as it is reflected by Facebook, and by innumerable others to be sure. At the same time, the excitement about Facebook’s “real” name policy would seem only a small fraction of what is critique-worthy about the phenomenon Facebook. LGBT is very high profile at the moment, and we are not using our moment in the sun to reach out to those not enjoying the current spot-light but rather jealously securing our own measly claims as they are perceived by the current LGBT cadre.
Where is the mention of those who do not and will never have names on Facebook? Where is the outrage at the banalization of the human experience by calling on it to adhere to the confines of a drop-down menu? Where is the nausea at the de-politicization of life by putting serious expressions of pressing concerns on the level of just another pleasant diversion? … the criticism of the ET industry, its labor practices and rapacious hunger for resources, and more-and-more consumption? Where!? We were born out of the civil rights movement of the later half of the 20th century. Where is our tribute?
As a member of an LGBTIQ community of what ever description, once a gain i am ashamed at the glaring lack of sense of common struggle with those who are barred from participation in full humanity for any number of other reasons.
Shame on "us".
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