Sunday, 17 August 2014

Society does not contain human beings. In other news, Facebook owns your soul.

Today, while engaging in an act of hyper-reading while finishing the 10 pages of Moeller I had left over from yesterday, I came across a petition to stop facebook's messenger app from doing ... something. Accessing photos and making calls on your behalf or something insidious like that. I signed the petition like a good little sheep, and was immediately challenged by someone on facebook.

After a refreshingly rational mini-debate, I reflected upon my decision and reasoned that, since I'm still using facebook and have been for the past five-ish years, and have known about privacy issues all that time, it's a bit rich of me in some ways to be protesting the very functionality that I am happy enough to be complicit in the legitimising process of.

The idea that "only communication can communicate", paired with the concept of society no longer containing human beings, goes hand-in-hand with this sort of tension over ubiquity. Yes, we know that our apps and email accounts don't technically belong to us and that by their very design they infiltrate as much of our "private lives" as possible, that even if in practice the majority of people who use said media are not having their private lives constantly ravaged by the NSA, Illuminati or church of Scientology, the potential for it is very much real. We also know that we have very little insight as to the mechanics of Facebook or Gmail, unless we're involved in the field of web design or can write code. We know that we, humans, are not a part of this communication. And knowing that, we use it anyway.

Systems theory may bring a gut reaction of "begone vile misanthrope" at first glance, but perhaps the concept of a society without human beings is one that we accepted quite some time ago, and are (happily or not) content to see the continued autopoiesis of indefinitely.

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