Two Facebook Essays

In the previous post two links to essays about Facebook were put up. For the record John Lingan's take is preferable to Zadie Smith's New York Review of Books rake-over. Her literate-us-versus-unwashed-them frame is something I keep having projected onto me and that's not how I see it (one can hate the idea of Facebook without being down on all 2.0 media).

Lingan puts it in better perspective:

To a lesser degree, she makes [Malcolm] Gladwell’s mistake of assuming that newfangled social media is designed to be radical or revolutionary. But these things are just platforms. Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr, et al would rust and moss-over if and when the patrons ever go away. People–typically older people–who stare at these odd new tools with bemused skepticism grant them too much power. You might as well look for meaning in a newly designed baseball glove.

But Lingan quotes Smith favorably on this point:

It feels important to remind ourselves, at this point, that Facebook, our new beloved interface with reality, was designed by a Harvard sophomore with a Harvard sophomore’s preoccupations. What is your relationship status? (Choose one. There can be only one answer. People need to know.) Do you have a “life”? (Prove it. Post pictures.) Do you like the right sort of things? (Make a list. Things to like will include: movies, music, books and television, but not architecture, ideas, or plants.)


Finally, it’s the idea of Facebook that disappoints. If it were a genuinely interesting interface, built for these genuinely different 2.0 kids to live in, well, that would be something. It’s not that. It’s the wild west of the Internet tamed to fit the suburban fantasies of a suburban soul.