Forget Orwell’s 1984 – Meet BIG BROTHER, 21st Century Style

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values” – the late Canadian-born media guru and author of ‘Understanding Media’, Marshall McLuhan

A Brief One from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper

Posted March 19th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

BIG BROTHER wants you!

To reveal as much of your personal information as possible on FACEBOOK.

I frequently get people – even very intelligent people who I assume should know better – saying to me some facsimile of this; ; “You mean you don’t use FACEBOOK? No one who wants to be a winner in today’s communications game uses email anymore.”

I’m sure most of the people who say that are genuinely trying to be helpful . There are also those  who, in a somewhat condescending way,  colour me as the  last person on the planet  using one of those old, wooden crank phones on the wall to call the egg man while everyone else in the modern world is texting and firing off selfies on their smartphones.

There is a confession I must make though, since some of you FACEBOOK users out there receive Niagara At Large posts that way and are already on to me.

Actually, I do use FACEBOOK, but only to the extent that in the world we live in  now, I had little choice but to plug both  FACEBOOK and Twitter into Niagara At Large as one more way of growing a following for the site.

What choice do I have though since according to a lot of the media surveys that have been conducted in recent years, the primary source of news more than half of all people across North America is FACEBOOK – a horrifying finding in and of itself given that most of the so-called news you find on FACEBOOK, compared to what you find in The Globe and Mail or New York Times, is shallower than a puddle of spit on a sidewalk.

 

 

 

 

No wonder clowns like Trump and so many of the Trump wannabes we have haunting the halls of government in our region have such large audiences for just about any nonsense they want to hear.

So Niagara At Large is plugged in to FACEBOOK and Twitter for the purposes of trying to get at least some of what we post here out to a wider audience.

But one thing this NAL reporter/publisher absolutely won’t do is use FACEBOOK to respond to people who ask me answer a question or expand on a position I have taken on the Niagara At Larges site on some hot-button subject. No bloody way. If you want more, try crossing paths with me at the next meeting, or sending me an email that (with all of the other hundreds of emails I get each week) I might find time to respond to.

But no damn way am I going to fall into the trap of sharing information of a personal or of a serious or controversial nature on FACEBOOK for at least a couple of reasons.

First, I have long ago lost track of the number of people around the world, and right here in this region, who have seriously screwed up their relationships with friends and acquaintances, or have failed to get hired to a job they applied for, or have even lost a job, or have unwittingly cut the legs out from under some cause they were championing, or have suddenly found themselves feeling a little  more from homeland security officers when they show their passports at the border, or have been sued or threatened with a lawsuit by someone charging that they’ve been libelled or defamed – all because of something of something posted on FACEBOOK.

I’ve heard people who’ve found themselves getting in trouble like this saying something as foolish as; ‘Gee, all I wanted to do was a few things with my online “friends,” which has got to be the most deceptive word the captains of FACEBOOK use to describe the senders and receivers of the information they provide a venue for.

There are people out there who actually brag about how many “friends” they have on FACEBOOK. Yet, how many of the people that you may send or receive information from on FACEBOOK are really your friends?

I remember one social media critic arguing that if you suddenly found yourself suffering from a serious back injury and needed someone to shovel snow from your driveway so you could get your car out, how many of your FACEBOOK “friends” would answer your call? You’d probably have and better chance of getting your driveway shovelled if you used a real telephone to ask one of your neighbours.

And what’s the point of talking about ‘online friends’ when anyone with a computer of their own and FACEBOOK account, including people who might be looking for ways to get you in trouble, can get access to your messages with one click of a button.

Talking about FACEBOOK friends is about as real and meaningful as FACEBOOK’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg playing with computerized images last year to go on that “virtual reality tour” of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, before he received an unexpected backlash from many of his own online members for which he issued a lame apology.

That stunt alone said something very disturbing about Zuckerberg’s grasp on reality and was about as reprehensible as Trump winging into Puerto Rico as President of the United States and tossing rolls of paper towels out to hurricane victims the same way someone might toss marsh mellows to zoo animals.

Just as bothersome to me are reports that Zuckerberg and company make huge amounts of money searching out information posted by FACEBOOK users to put together populations of “pyscho types” of consumers and voters they then sell to private corporations and political parties that they, in turn, use to more strategically peddle their products or ideas.

And just in the past few days, not surprisingly, those who care enough to pay attention are following more news on how information culled from the sites of tens-of-thousands of FACEBOOK users was used to inform and assist Trump’s election campaign.

When the stock markets opened on Wall and Bay Streets this March 19th, the value of FACEBOOK shares began falling – not out of concern about any collusion by FACEBOOK in Trump’s campaign, according to a number of business reporters, but out of concern shareholders have that steps may be taken by governments to slap more regulations on what FACEBOOK can do with information posted by its users.

So much for any fear about the role such powerful media tools can play in mass manipulation and subverting whatever is left of our democracy.

“We shape our tools and afterwards, our tools shape us.” – another observation from Marshall McLuhan who we desperately need back today.

“Big Brother is Watching You.” – from George Orwell’s 1948 book and nightmare vision of the future, ‘1984’.

Please read this related story by clicking on – https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/cambridge-analytica-harvested-data-millions-unsuspecting-facebook-users-n857591 .

And here is what may be some good news about recent drops in Facebook use among younger people – https://www.recode.net/2018/2/12/16998750/facebooks-teen-users-decline-instagram-snap-emarketer .

To watch a video segment on an apology FACEBOOK CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to make this year for his virtual reality tour of Puerto Rico, click on –

.NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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2 responses to “Forget Orwell’s 1984 – Meet BIG BROTHER, 21st Century Style

  1. You make good points here, Doug, but you also paint with a broad brush. Facebook is as shallow as its users and their friends. I use it to share information, and, occasionally, discussions (some of which I should stay the hell out of). I’m glad to share your articles on Facebook, and I find many other interesting articles there, too — because my interesting and informed Facebook friends post them. If you’re dumb enough to bare your soul or your body, yes, you’re running a huge risk — I should have thought that that was obvious, but apparently not. But there are ways to avoid the worst of data mining. One is to not click on those apps or succumb to the temptation of doing those “does my personality mean I’m an axe-murderer?” type surveys. Use Facebook judiciously and carefully, and don’t accept any and all “friend” requests. As for trolls: block ’em immediately and report them to Facebook. There have been so many complaints that Facebook is actually smartening up. A bit. After all, Zuckerberg wants to keep us all happy…and avoid massive government crackdowns.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good points. We indeed do have a big problem concerning the “big brother is watching you” issue. But the other thing to remind ourselves of here is that Facebook have in fact recognised the problem – and they closed Cambridge Analytica’s account as soon as their misconduct came to Facebook’s notice.
    In ANY social media platform, you are going to get a cross section of different types of people participating – from the shallowest, sensation-seeking and most ill-informed types to people who are the exact opposite.
    Personally I’m on Facebook for political reasons, I always have supporting documentation to back up anything and everything I say, and only deal with well-informed people and groups who are “in business” to bring about serious and necessary change in the way our society functions – and put a stop to the corruption in business and politics and the popular disinformation and ill informed social prejudices that serve to sustain that corruption.
    I don’t give out personal information about myself other than what is directly relevant to the political and business topics that I’m discussing.
    I also have a long-standing practice of comparing information about a given topic from multiple sources so as to be better able to tell what is good information and what isn’t; I have my own-designed database and SQL query system for information retrieval to assist with this, along with an automatic theme-based indexing system for new items of information when I add them to my database.

    Like

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