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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 months ago

Such an inglorious future could not have been foretold during Facebook’s birth on the Harvard campus in 2004 — and nor even was it evident in 2008, when the platform really started to take off.
But is that statement really true? Google Fred Friendly and Edward R. Murrow talking about the new medium of television in the 1950s and their discussion will likely strike you as immensely naïve. They honestly believed it would be a force for massive social good and enlightenment (and, in fairness, some of Murrow’s early “See it Now” broadcasts exemplified what TV could achieve).
But my opinions on this topic count for little. When the author wrote about people’s reaction to the emergence of Facebook, “those of us wandering around the world with immediate access to a real-time digital soap opera … and those few souls who remained blissfully unaware and unaffected”, I immediately recognized I fell in the latter group.

Terry M
Terry M
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Other than FBs attempts at “data harvesting, electoral manipulation, politicised shadow-banning” which are intentional acts, the rest of FB is merely a vehicle that allows the exposition of people’s inner selves, much as Sartre and Jung indicated. You can’t blame FB for that.
By most accounts it was the addition of the LIKE button that set off all the trouble. Once people could get feedback the whole community morphed into a high school popularity contest.
FB is a gigantic experiment in human interaction. Certainly it must provide a great data resource for serious study by social scientists/psychologists.
On FB I follow the advice of Aaron Burr from the play Hamilton: “talk less, smile more.”
One FB group I enjoy is: Old British sayings and slang

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

“FB is a gigantic experiment in human interaction…”
Corrected: “FB is a gigantic experiment in money extraction…”

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Me too. In 2005 when Facebook had just started I emailed an old mate who had moved to Canada, he didn’t reply but sent a link to his ‘Facebook page.’ The first thing I saw was ‘Bruce has 150 friends.’ Was I to join just to speak to him? ‘Carl has no friends, maybe one friend’? At the time people were just accepting anyone so they could boast about there ephemeral and bogus friends, there narcissism hasn’t gone away.
I have never joined any social platforms.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

And along with Murrow, Newton Minow came along and denounced the vast wasteland. But where’s there’s shit there might also be a pony, and along came The Sopranos . . . as with evolution, lots of red in tooth and claw waste and the occasional gem?

Arthur G
Arthur G
2 months ago

Here’s a suggestion: don’t join, and if you have, quit. I’ve never been on Facebook, or Twitter, or MySpace, or Instagram, or TikTok, and my life hasn’t suffered one iota.

Robbie K
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

I quit Facebook when they tried to create their own currency – now that was truly mortifying.

Mrs R
Mrs R
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The whole Meta organisations stinks. If you ever have a problem and try to deal with their staff that fact is made abundantly clear. Absolutely horrible. My account was hijacked by someone in Nigeria a few years ago. Despite providing all the relevant proof as to my identity. Meta couldn’t give a toss.
I gave up. I must say I don’t miss it and glad I’m no longer supporting that toxic organisation in any way whatsoever.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Precisely, well said sir!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

How do you know this?

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
2 months ago

I presume he knows, precisely because it is his life, and he’s actually living it, rather than “virtually living it”.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Bravo!

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

”, rather than “virtually living it”.’

Alb – you are virtually living it when you put that post here – what is it with up-voters here?

Paul T
Paul T
2 months ago

Can you not tell the difference between Facebook and here? You don’t cease to exist because you haven’t posted recently on here.

tintin lechien
tintin lechien
2 months ago

How does he know what? That he didn’t suffer one iota? Because he said it himself. Your question begs the question. LOL.

Gareth Rees
Gareth Rees
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Same here, but the word on the streets (according to my teenage daughters) is that Facebook is seriously uncool. I go to considerable lengths to protect my privacy, I don’t understand why people are so keen to put their private lives out there. It’s what authoritarian Governments and the global elites want. They have far too much access to our actions and movements as it is. They need to be starved and discussion of our private lives restricted to fora (like pubs, restaurants and home) where every word spoken isn’t recorded for posterity to be used against you at a future date.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth Rees

There is a large group of people that believes it has nothing to hide and, as such, nothing to lose by relentlessly posting. Your daughter’s cohort, meanwhile, has moved to other platforms that are no less intrusive in collecting data but that group is too young to appreciate the potential ramifications. This is the group that would be all for a digital currency.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth Rees

The same might be said about the Comments section on Unherd!

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

True, and every time I click through on an article, and how long I hover over a paragraph or read a comment.
Of Stalin knew what we all carry in our pockets, he would be amazed and pleased.

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

Nonsense, he was the one who was counting the votes remember? If he knew, the KGB and the Stasi would be on overtime, the gulags overflowing.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

UnHerd flourished during the great Scamdemic because the Pubs* were closed. It is now a pale imitation of its former self.

(*Most but NOT all I am happy to relate.)

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

Ah, so there was a Golden Era for Unherd?
Sic transit gloria…etc.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yes indeed! It was an excellent example of the English obsession with ‘ freedom of speech”.

Of the many splendid commentators I particularly recall Mr Fraser Bailey and Mr Basil Chamberlain.
Perhaps you may recall some others?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago

Mustard Clementine and John Holland, though the latter played the troll too often and you two were sometimes rude to one another. This was probably after the Golden Age you hearken back to anyway. Forgive my unsolicited response.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

No need to apologise, and ‘guilty as charged’.
In fact I rather miss old Holland.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago

Sadly you are now promoting Hamas’s objectives. It is interesting how free speech and the notion of it swirls around.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 months ago

In what way has it changed CS. Unherd still does the same thing and Comments are still posted with the same freedoms. Have we lost readers, quality articles or has cancel culture affected us, such that certain comments are no longer permissible ?
Gloria filiorum patres
later: SM below
Have just seen your latin quote: perhaps more appropriate.

Matt M
Matt M
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I only come to UnHerd for Charles Stanhope but sometimes stay for the articles.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

“Flattery will get you everywhere “!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago

Charles reminds me of Michael Whitehall, two of a dying breed.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I think not.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth Rees

Better be sure that nobody in the vicinity has a phone with them, not even one that is turned off, if you don’t want everything said to be recorded and stored in a database for later mining.

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

Like Nicola Sturgeon’s Whatsapp account?

Mrs R
Mrs R
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth Rees

Unfortunately they’ve not walked away from social media entirely, merely replaced Facebook with TikTok (China) and Instagram( Meta)

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

Instagram and Facebook are both Meta.

Eileen Krol
Eileen Krol
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth Rees

People are lonely. Fact.

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 months ago
Reply to  Gareth Rees

“They” the evil plotters of our downfall. It is hard to find a good word for either Sunak or Starmer on social media, both of whom think they’ll be PM in 2025. Westminster doesn’t give a hoot for public opinion outside dishonest polling.

Vesselina Zaitzeva
Vesselina Zaitzeva
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Agree in principle, but speaking from my experience, Twitter can be quite a good source of information (and fun) if used wisely, i.e. selectively and in moderation.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

”and my life hasn’t suffered one iota.”

You cannot know that.

‘I have never been on a date…’

‘I have never left my city…’

‘I have never had a pet…’

‘I have never been married…”

”and my life hasn’t suffered one iota.”

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago

I believe that suffering is subjective and “in the eyes of the beholder”. How in the world can you argue that never being married is suffering if one decides to remain single?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The being single stigma. It’s suspect!

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

The wonderful Joe Walsh (Analog man-great album) summed it up-The whole world’s living in a digital dream-It’s not really there-It’s all on the screen-Makes me forget who I am-I’m an analog man.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 months ago

I’ll see your Analog Man and raise you Rush’s ‘Digital Man’ (1982):
He’s got a forcefield and a flexible plan
He’s got a date with fate in a black Sedan
He plays fast-forward for as long as he can
But he won’t need a bed
He’s a digital man

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Cat’s foot, iron claw, neurosurgeons scream for more at paranoia’s poison door: 21st century schizoid man.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
2 months ago

Great number by King Crimson But why not sit down and have a nice cuppa tea?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

But the life of all these people who do participate has changed significantly and society as a whole. So you are not part of this anymore.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

What?!

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

The interesting question is in a free-market economy these money making social media platforms seem to have free-rein. Is serious government oversight needed- and after all government is the only institution that can limit the undoubted harm they do(as KS eloquently argues) – or is that just nanny statism?
The usual rightwing advocates of the free market seem to go quiet on this. They should surely be admirers of the wonderful innovation Meta shows in accumulating billions.

Matt M
Matt M
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Me too! I’ve never even joined WhatsApp. I cannot stand people pushing their unsolicited opinions at me. I only read and listen to things I pay for (UnHerd, Spectator, couple of podcasts and four Substacks). I pay for YouTube Premium so I get no ads. I don’t watch TV and listen to a radio station that only plays local ads for things like a carpet shops in Hayling Island!

People should be a lot more careful about the media they consume.

I’m off to the pub.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Good man!
Best place to be, nothing like it, from ‘toff to tart’ all are one under that roof.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago

Pub life is about community. There are few places left for that. I suppose Facebook fills that void,

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It pretends to do so – but fails miserably

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

My pub now has cameras and I know for a fact (because a member of staff told me) that the landlord sits upstairs watching and listening.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Exactly. Me neither. I don’t say that to feel superior I was just never drawn to it. I watch a lot of court TV and it’s quite staggering to hear the kinds of things people post, so personal and intimate or malicious and I think why, why.

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

You remind me of a friend who still has handkerchiefs, wears brogues and corduroy and takes snuff. He’s like that Japanese soldier left behind on a South Pacific island. Well no, he probably enjoyed catching up.

Kieran P
Kieran P
2 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

Is that Jacob R-M?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

We never knows what would happen if we had taken the other fork in the road”

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
2 months ago

But is the uncanny, hyper self-aware epistemology of Facebook/Social media really anything new? Or is it – as I think – simply that SM/internet writing has democratised and universalised the ironic distancing in human communication which kicked off, prolly, as far back as when the J Writer discovered that the way to trick a lot of people into genuflecting before a single voice’s ‘narrative omnipotence’ is via a trickster’s combination of narrative misdirection, authorial mystery (bordering on anonymity) and serially-multiplied hearsay. (If you want to convince someone that X is true, you don’t write: ‘X is true‘, nor do you even write ‘I think that X is true‘ You write something like: ‘I heard Y tell Z that she saw for herself that X is true, but she can’t say anything publicly, on the record, because nasty W is threatening to sack her if she does.’ Or you write a meta-piece – like this one – on the question of whether or not X is true, which carefully conceals the smuggled-in assumption that of course X is true behind a whole lot of luke-warm ‘objective’ analysis of the various possible answers to a question the author has already answered in the first sentence, and beds further in via meta-narrative, sentence by relentless sentence. Etc.)
Seriously, who on earth takes a single thing they read as anything other than carefully-curated performance? To me, the written word has always had ‘simulacrum’ embedded into its epistemic DNA. ALL writing is ‘performance’. This Op Ed piece by Kathleen Stock, for example: it isn’t what she actually thinks, it’s a performance, for us. It’s as usual a beauty, and it being no less staged than a FB Influencer’s duckface selfie doesn’t make it invalid, or even wrong. But for any professional wordsmith – anyone for whom words are not simply tools of human communication, but tools of trade/livelihood, too – to attack Facebook/SM for some weird new iteration of anti-communicative transgression…well, it takes a fair bit of brass and a whopping great epistemic blind spot. What is a Facebook post but a Gonzo op ed updated for the digital age, and what was a Gonzo op ed but a privately funded pamphlet,and etc…all the way back to the invention of One God by some smart arse with a few scraps of papyrus and a really neat insight into how to out-meta the average literate punter.
Who are paid writers kidding? You lot all know better than any of us that the written word (regardless of medium) is by definition a Grifter’s Tool, for the use there-of in epistemic sleight-of-handery. Especially these days…good grief, who on earth, anywhere, writes what they actually, fully thinking? Certainly not – of all people!! – journalists, academics, opinion writers, authors. It’s not just FB, all writing in all media is a projected pose, and has been for centuries. Forever. If there is one great radical, democratising disruption inherent in the rise of the Zuckerbergs/the internet, it’s surely been the pulling away of the word-magicians’ curtain, to expose and avail to us all the bag of cheap wordy tricks that, until this generation’s writerly technological capacity began to match (and outrun, with AI) its writerly epistemic capacity, has been the guarded secret of a small guild of mischievous wordsmiths.

Chris Hearn
Chris Hearn
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Robertson

Well Jack, a fine if rather overly long post, but of course you don’t believe anything you write,it’s just a performance!
But if you are right (I don’t agree with you) it means that nobody can communicate anything truthful or honest using the written word.
So increasing our knowledge, beyond our friends and those who we can communicate verbally (assuming they are not “performing” as well), becomes impossible, as we cannot believe anything written! You really think that? nah!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hearn

“Ah, there’s the rub” as another wordsmith once wrote.
It could be extrapolated from JR’s post that even the spoken word is performative. Where do we go from there, apart from universal silence?

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Tantum in sexu et dolore veritas iacet !

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hearn

Bit of a strawman, Chris. To say that all writing is curated performance is not to say that writing can’t be truthful or honest as a result. Of course it can. Stock gets pretty close most of the time. But one always needs to keep at the front of one’s cognition that one is reading curated human emotional and intellectual output. Curation demands selectivity, and no writer I know of has ever – ever – written down something that they genuinely do not wish a posterity audience to read, and let it stand. Not unless by unavoidable accident (or Estate betrayal), anyway. There’s a reason all the greatest writers burn their private papers. It’s the sh*t that doesn’t get published that illustrates the fullest humanity of us all. It’s this rarely-acknowledged characteristic of written communication – that what gets ‘edited out’ tells you as much if not more about humanity than what gets left in – that social media/amateur mass writing is threatening. The only difference between what the average FB writer produces and what a Kathleen Stock produces is…editing. What really interests me about Stock’s views of the former? Well, the thoughts about them she didn’t include in this article, for starters, and why she didn’t include them. She’s unlikely to tell me that, is she.
Every writer will insist that all they really care about is ‘the truth’ and ‘honesty’ in words. They all lie! 🙂

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

I tried Facebook long ago and immediately found it superficial, time-consuming and boring. Deleted my account and never returned. The recent Senate hearings, the WSJ expose, and this article point out the even darker side of social media, leaving me no longer content to just ignore it. This article did not mention one horrible widespread use of social media in trafficking unsuspecting impoverished women from third-world countries. These women, seeking jobs in more prosperous countries, are lured to social media pages that offer turn-key services in securing jobs, work-permits, housing, and paperwork. They are picked up by handlers at their destination who transport them to remote locations, confiscate their passports, confine them, forcibly addict them to narcotics, and sell them into prostitution. According to the WSJ the social media platform enables this and their execs have known it was occurring for years. The WSJ contends that corporate emails confirmed that leadership deliberately decided not to meaningfully address the problem because they were trying to grow their market in the third world and didn’t want to inhibit that growth.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I suspect your account is not really deleted. You should check!

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
2 months ago

I’m 6 years clean now. Just leave. You’ll lose absolutely nothing and reclaim your world. All the platforms, not just FB or ‘Meta’ (pretentious enough?) are an utter waste of life. It’s worth noting that if your ‘friends’ aren’t making time for you in the real world they aren’t your friends and they don’t actually care about you. Nor you them. Free yourselves and your children. It’s puddle deep interactions and facile content sharing. That is all it is. Be honest with yourself about it and walk away.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

The main reason I wouldn’t like to give up facebook now is that I’d lose access to those addictive rug-cleaning, patio-pressure-washing and old-stuff-renovating videos that Zuckerberg’s minions and algorithms have worked out I love watching so much.

Chris Hearn
Chris Hearn
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

But you can find endless examples of those on YouTube! Don’t need FB at all 😉

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hearn

Ah, but here’s the thing: FB finds them for me, and seemingly exactly when I’m in the mood for them.

Heather Erickson
Heather Erickson
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Turn off your notifications

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hearn

So, give Google your data, rather than Meta?
Because it all goes to GCHQ or NSA in either case.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

I did the same after watching “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix. A must watch for anyone who desires sanity in their lives.

Saul D
Saul D
2 months ago

I remember, back in around 2005, trying Facebook for the first time and being totally shocked at how privacy intrusive it was from the off, deliberately asking you to upload your contacts so it could spread. At the time I couldn’t believe how unwittingly careless and trusting individuals would be providing private data to large advertising corporations, with the deep potential for ‘biteback’ by employers, ex-s and stalkers, and risks of doxxing and job and education background checks. But here we are.
Instead of anonymity-first services which assume no data is collected to identify you, we have privacy-first policies (like the government compelled ‘know your customer’ in financial services) that assume business will know lots about you, and allows enforced ‘consent’ (try reading some French or German newspapers online) and cookie banners so they can share that data with others with minimal risk (‘you agreed’).

Jean Redpath
Jean Redpath
2 months ago

The way in which Facebook is used depends on the user. Many use it just like Instagram (selfies, my wonderful life, mostly photographs, performative memes) – not much fun at all. The juice is in groups. There is a wonderful group called the Dull Men’ Club, in which, for example, people from all over the world participated in an experiment to see how long it took for their kettle to boil, dependent on voltage, wattage etc. in the relevant country … Posts (and responses) on such groups are text rather than image-heavy, humorous, thoughtful and often whimsical. A bit like the the comment wall on UnHerd? Of course, Facebook has much less harmless uses too; its tendency to drive conspiracy theorists to more of the same being just one, and allowing scammers to use multiple profiles being another.

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
2 months ago
Reply to  Jean Redpath

I’ll admit to being a member of the Dull Men’s Club – that and “Dr. Alice Roberts is Fit”.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago
Reply to  Harry Phillips

Blimey, I think I’d join “Alice Roberts is Fit”. And “Janina Ramirez is Oddly Sexy When She Speaks Old English”…when that group gets established.

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Why wait? I’m sure you’d be welcome in DARiF.

Not sure about Janina Ramirez, but there’s definitely demand for a “Hands Up if You Fancy Lucy Worsley Dressed as an Elizabethan Chambermaid” group.

Matt F
Matt F
2 months ago
Reply to  Jean Redpath

Yes, I’m also a DMC member. Such special interest groups are pretty much all there is on on FB these days.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Jean Redpath

First comment that resonated and is informed. Yes you curate FB to your preference.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
2 months ago

“Yes you curate FB to your preference.”

Quite. And as you do so, FB curates your life, thoughts, time, friendships, and attention-span, to its preference, no?

As the old saying goes: if something’s “free”, then you are the product that’s being sold.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Unless you are talking to your friends… whom you recognise. Duh

Tony Nunn
Tony Nunn
2 months ago
Reply to  Jean Redpath

As joint Admin of the National Stenchpipe Appreciation Society, I concur that groups are the best feature of Facebook.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Jean Redpath

Almost every conspiracy theory of the last three decades has proven to be true.

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

The thing is that in the west at least, Facebook is dying. It is already culturally mostly irrelevant for anyone under 35. It became distinctly ‘uncool’ over a decade now, and you’ll barely find any teenagers or even 20-somethings using it. The beast labours on, but only as a marketplace for 50 year olds and for middle aged people to check in on distant relatives once in a while. Articles like this are strange to me. It’s like discussing Friends Reunited, LiveJournal, Something Awful or Habbo Hotel. These are already relics and have been for decades.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

It is already culturally mostly irrelevant for anyone under 35. It became distinctly ‘uncool’ over a decade now, and you’ll barely find any teenagers or even 20-somethings using it.  — you make these sound like bad things. So the kids don’t like it. And? I mostly use it for one closed group of relatively like minded people who help with making sense of the madness around us.

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The point is articles like this are treating a dead brand walking like it is of relevance when it is about as important as the Hunting Act 2004.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

It still has value in a mostly business context, as a way to host a website for your small business or hobby group.

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
2 months ago

It’s very good for local community groups. My village has a Facebook group, I’m sure many communities do. It’s generally benign, easily disseminates info and gets problems fixed quickly – lost animals, village events, free stuff, info about tradesppl or logs for sale, parish council matters etc. Needs a good moderator, apparently a useful tool for criminals to eg burgle houses when the owners discuss holiday plans.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

It’s because Zuckerberg is in the news so it’s relevant.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago

I’m not going to praise or criticise Facebook, or the people on it. Partly because I’m still a member – and partly because posting on Unherd is basically part of the same phenomenon so none of us here in the hallowed BTL have any reason to feel superior.
But I will share my favourite selfie story.
Picture the scene: the deepest, darkest Costa Rican jungle. 20 German/Austrian tourists (and one random Yorkshire lass) out on a damp and steamy hike to look at the Rio Celeste waterfall. The tour guide has to retrace our steps as someone seems to have fallen behind, which – in the deepest darkest Costa Rican jungle, isn’t advisable, especially for people used to the more pedestrian, less scorpion-infested surrounds of Cologne or Hamburg.
Hanging about waiting, we realise that there is a luminous green snake curled up on a branch right next to the path, sleeping. All of the group instantly recoil – bright green snakes in the deepest, darkest Costa Rican jungle probably aren’t anything you want to get too closely involved with. Everyone apart from one blonde dollybird wearing a waterproof coat with Tinkerbell on, that is. She promptly gets out her phone, fiddles with her hair, backs up to said snake and takes a selfie with it.
I don’t think I have ever been so close to the actual occurrence of a Darwin Award.

Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I take it that you are not what could be described as a “blonde dollybird”?

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Thomas

Well, I’m definitely not blonde.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Did any of the Jungle people stand in front of the Dolly Bird, such is the phone thing now days, and get a selfie with her? I hope so…

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

That is what I would have done, get the snake picture – you are there to see the sights. By the way – the missing person – I assume was half way down the throat of an anaconda by the time the guide found them – such is the reality of Costa Rica snakes…

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“Let sleeping snakes lie” is a good policy.

O'Driscoll
O'Driscoll
2 months ago

I never post on Facebook, but I do use it as a form of entertainment. Most of my “friends” are very distant connections, often people I’ve never met, who post interesting stuff about music, or amusing and well-written anecdotes. As soon as a “friend” posts their holiday snaps, a “well-being” cliche, a “share if you hate cancer” meme, anything about politics, or pictures of their children, they are unfollowed.

I have seen one positive consequence of Facebook, and that is that it affords the lonely a space to talk to others, to say what is in their head, maybe to review a film they’ve seen. It gives them comfort – that they are alive, that they are not alone, that someone might be listening. Nothing wrong with that.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
2 months ago

Great piece. I kicked my very severe FB habit in 2017 and after about 3 days of cold turkey was fine. Zuckerborg’s problem is that no one under 50 uses Facebook. It’s an irrelevance. Only Tiktok matters now – the platform that Chinese kids get a much less toxic version of and to which their exposure is time limited, daily. It astounds me that we blithely allow a psyop such as this free rein. But then again, maybe it doesn’t.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago

If you are over 50 why would you care that young people are moving to the vapid TikTok. Why is it a problem to you?

Caractacus Potts
Caractacus Potts
2 months ago

Because there’s nothing on TikTok that isn’t approved by the Chinese Government. Simon is spot on. It’s a state-owned psyop to fragment and weaken Western societies. It’s being hugely successful and the gullible are lapping it up. I’m also astonished that it’s continually allowed to poison the minds of young people with pure propaganda. On a level that Goebbels could only dream of…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago

You are not getting my point…. Shweeee!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

Exactly.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

A few weeks ago Mr Carl Valentine an UnHerd reader made this ‘erudite’ comment:-

“F*ckerberg has to go!!! (JFK style if necessary) He and his platforms are doing untold harm.
Social media is the problem. Our children are becoming zombies.”

Is he correct?

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
2 months ago

Charles, thank you so much for quoting me! I feel honoured (genuinely) I promise fewer down votes in the future. 🙂

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Don’t overdue it, I revel in ‘down votes’!

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
2 months ago

I know you do, in which case I shall keep them coming! (if deserved of course…)

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
2 months ago

Just reread that Charles, was that anti-semetism? lol

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Certainly not.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago

Watch the documentary….”The Social Dilemma” to find out.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Thank you.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago

From the initial comments I read, the commentary is ignorant. I don’t belong to FB to avoid my friends who live close by, I belong to FB to remain in closish contact with friends far away and also have connected with those I’d lost contact with. I have a lot of friends and would not be able to sustain contact only personally. I have actually become closer to certain friends and established more intimate rapport with them.
I also follow some other people who are amusing and or interesting…. I’m thinning out those who aren’t. You curate your FB to your taste.
The world is a big place…. But you can choose to live in a small bubble like Unherd. Each to their own.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

With respect, those who post regularly on Unherd (and that includes both of us) don’t do so to “live in a small bubble” but to try to participate in an intelligent discussion, with differing views. Admittedly, sometimes i’ll go a bit “over the top” especially when someone uses a thread to start proselytising, but what happens in the rest of our lives isn’t remotely like “living in a small bubble”.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

My point is I live in a bigger internet bubble than just Unherd. To criticise social media when you don’t even partake of it sounds like a special lunacy.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 months ago

I believe FB on its own is relatively innocuous. But there is another side to FB and social media in general, that is very Orwellian. The major problem is that one cannot have one without the other.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Yes, you have to be aware.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
2 months ago

Never done it, never will. To neglect real people you are with, in favour of people you don’t know or who aren’t there, must surely be quite mad, as well as insufferably rude.

Jean Redpath
Jean Redpath
2 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Why would staying in contact with people far away necessarily imply neglecting people you are with?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 months ago
Reply to  Jean Redpath

Depends if you are exchanging minutae with those far away many times a day – while in a room with someone else.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Jean Redpath

If I want to stay in contact with people far away, I send them an email.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

Never been on any social media platforms in my life, except for what’s app, and I’m starting to worry about that now, so may jump off.
The whole set up just gives me the creeps.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
2 months ago

I read somewhere (can’t remember where now) that Facebook was preceded by another (maybe government) website on which we were all going to store our data online. But, because of privacy issues and an uproar from civil liberty groups, it was shelved.

Then, within months Zuckerberg created Facebook within miles of the original product’s site, with that social aspect and everyone happily loaded up their data in any case.

Rather Not
Rather Not
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

The most energetic defenders of privacy were the Liberal Democrats – whose former leader Nick Clegg is now Zuckerberg’s mouthpiece.

Ron Kean
Ron Kean
2 months ago

Many good points have been made here. I’ve been a guitar player and I’ve always sought an audience like love of the masses. I believed Facebook gave everybody the opportunity for that just being alive. Us boomers reacquainted ourselves with friends from youth and communicated personal life experiences like decades meant nothing. We were still the people we were.
I dropped out 2 years ago over politics. People who I otherwise liked said what I considered really dumb things. They contradicted me and probably felt I was dumb. But when Facebook censored me both putting a warning to others about the veracity of my posts and then by just making the post blank I felt that was too much. I was being judged by people I would later learn were totally wrong as events played out.
Now I go there every once in a while to see pics of somebody’s grandkids and who said happy birthday to old friends but I haven’t posted. I’ll use the messenger for some friends that I don’t have WhatsApp or email addresses. I’ve sold and bought over ‘Marketplace’. I’m always happy to see somebody agrees with me that Facebook has become offensive and even destructive. Nice article.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron Kean

 I was being judged by people I would later learn were totally wrong as events played out. — that’s the money quote from your post. There is nothing evil about being wrong; at various points, we all do it. But most of us have the good grace to admit error, maybe even try to learn from it. Not so among the FBers, who pretend that being wrong never happened and move to the next topic.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron Kean

There are many reasons I have never been on FB, but a desire to not “reacquaint myself with friends from my youth” is principal among them.

neil sheppard
neil sheppard
2 months ago

What did anyone expect when you allow a nerdish sociopath to have his hands on the leavers of such corporate power?

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  neil sheppard

It could be worse. Elon Musk could have his hands on those levers.

Adam Huntley
Adam Huntley
2 months ago

What I continue to find amazing is how otherwise intelligent people seem to co-opt an entirely different and irrational part of their brain when posting. One friend I know said how he could not contain his hatred and loathing for Suella Braverman. For spreading hatred! When I pointed out the all too obvious irony ( he had after all taken the trouble to post this) his reply was the superficially justified, “well she earned my hatred”. In one bound any cognitive dissonance had been overcome. And doubtless too that of all the other members of this particular in group.

Caractacus Potts
Caractacus Potts
2 months ago

It’s turned into an instrument of state oppression. A tool to kill free speech. To enable kleptocracies and wannabe dictators. A conduit for corruption on a global scale. The biggest man-made disaster in my lifetime. Well until TikTok came along. Unfortunately the genie is out of the bottle and the powerful will never put it back in. It’s far too useful. Great article by Kathleen.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

Aside from the tedious “look at me, look at me” that defines much of FB, Ms. Stock brings up an issue that came to light and disappeared just as quickly: human trafficking, particularly involving kids. In the US, we had a brief flurry of talk about the subject when the movie Sound of Freedom circulated theaters, but that conversation died as the film’s run ended.
The US has since returned to its previous standing as one of the world’s worst offenders on trafficking, an issue the media either dare not cover or refuses to, neither being a good sign. We know the border issue is a marketplace of sorts, and I suspect the DC cartel is making out almost as much as the Mexican versions. That suspicion is based on the myriad attacks against the aforementioned film, as if someone had revealed a great secret that the rich and powerful were desperate to shove into the memory hole. By and large, they have succeeded.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
2 months ago

I remember when there was a terrorist attack on an Ariana Grande concert in the UK. I made a FB post about how horrified I was that she had “no words” for the murdered children who’d been blown up at her concert, and I described how she was part of the problem in modernity and how her behaviour and attitude was abhorrent and no kids (literally 10 year olds) should be at her concerts.

Nearly every one attacked me and said I was trash for raising such a point after such an attack. It was at that moment that I realised I’d never been a happier piece of trash, and that Facebook was actually a great place to test the mob.

But really Facebook is dead now, that’s why old zucker is making the Meta verse so he can trap us in via our actual brains and tendrils lol I mean his tendrils….

mike otter
mike otter
2 months ago

I ended up with fakebook’s b*****d offspring – whatscrap, simply because the <60s in my family only use that app to communicate. No checks for opening and account and it boasts of its encryption to assist illegal porn or drug businesses (as we said of encrochat – if you can encrypt it someone else can decipher it) Contrast that with Wechat or Weibo: you need to give photo id and proof of address and for some services a matching bank account. Sadly in this case the CCP are ahead of us and unless the guerro-sphere can catch up we are in for a rough ride. Sometimes history presents an opportunity for an easy fix – eg the garraway crisis actor/labour party “funeral”: a classic case of ducks in a row. Other times you just have to slug it out like WW1, Stalingrad or the current USSR/UKR conflict.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
2 months ago

I, like many others here, have a FB account and pretty much stopped using it. Largely due to the politicization of everything on the site. It started as a way to lazily update a large-ish group of people on what you were doing. As that initial group of people got older, the platform got stale and it has morphed into this nasty, bitchy, little website where middle aged people feel the need spew forth nonsense or bile in between uploading photos of new pets, homes, partners, children and grandchildren.
However, a word in its favor: it is very good for small businesses. I did join Instagram solely for this purpose. Setting up a website can be a little costly when you are a new business and you can have an Instagram page or FB easily and quickly. You can upload menus. photos of new products and so on and reach a large audience, who often tag themselves in photos and therefore advertise for you. If I want to visit somewhere and I don’t know whether it might open due to a holiday or poor weather, I can just look at its social media page and they often update there. If FB or Instagram sees I like a certain local business, it often recommends another local business to me, and I often am interested.
It is a great tool for musicians, artists, crafty-types to share work, network with one another and build a profile.
Likewise, if something is happening in my area, local FB groups are the gossip corner and you can get a lot of information on traffic patterns, events at the local high school and recommendations for local handymen and similar, through these groups.
Social media is useful, but use with caution.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

The last time that I remember ‘spewing bile’ on FB was 2020 and 2021 and I think it was necessary. The whole world was locked down and marching to the tune of corporate media, the governments and paid experts. I’m sorry I didn’t spew more facts.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
2 months ago

The absolute worst thing we could do is invite the government in to manage “safety” on the Internet. Let that start and soon we’ll all be back to writing letters to the editor that never see print.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
2 months ago

I was recently in the Sahara in Morocco at the erg chigara. It was sunset and I was with one of my hosts in a desert camp, no signal, no noise, we formed a real connection and now share privately, maybe ten minutes in a week. But he, someone who lives in the desert, said something which struck me as wisdom. People live through their phones. It is their gatekeeper. It’s the great pandemic of our times it has taken over people they can not function without it even more it controls their life literally.
I agree with the comment that in one sense we are all part of the same hypocrisy, whilst we are communing with strangers, we are all virtual. Facebook is so not cool. It’s for old people like me sharing photos of my holidays with far-flung friends and family. I use Instagram for that. My 23 friends are people I knew in reality before we connected.
As for the pornography argument, the internet is rife with it not just Facebook. Thats humanity for you.
That’s quite enough posting on Unherd for this month,

Paul T
Paul T
2 months ago

Its the “like” button; I like therefore I project who I am.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
2 months ago

With regards most of Social Media
And before joining in Big Time
You only need to ask of yourself one Question which unfortunately the one and only Answer is without Qualification.

Comprises of only 2 words which constitute what is a Universal Truth
And something every Human is gifted with since birth which society then sets about ruthlessly ensuring such answer
Becomes utterly lost to the vast majority of Humanity
Q.
Where is Wisdom to be found

A. That’s up to you , big clue however
Tis only 2 little simple words and no
Qualifications required

Francis Jakubiec
Francis Jakubiec
2 months ago

Social media is the monkey’s paw wish of all wishes come true. Consciously and unconsciously we’ve created, developed, and rewarded the behaviors we now see.
It reminds me of the story of the tower of babel, where what was intended (or believed) to unite and transcend led to discord and downfall.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago

Lots of old farts here who have never been on ‘social media’.

Tim Cross
Tim Cross
2 months ago

Quite right Arthur G – as one of those apparently ‘few souls who remained blissfully unaware and unaffected’ by all this stuff, life is indeed blissful!.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 months ago

There are a number of commenters who say they have never joined Facebook, or Twitter, or MySpace, or Instagram, or TikTok, These platforms seem such as important part of society these days, being constantly quoted and analysed. So I wonder how this affects society as a whole if there is even small segment who does not participate?

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

I am one of those people who have never joined the things you refer to (although I do have a limited profile on LinkedIn). I don’t think that my computer is a “spy in my house” either, as it has no camera and no microphone.

Adam Hopkins
Adam Hopkins
2 months ago

growing up i had this weird perspective regarding television. as i would sit with my family watching a show of some type i would wonder how we were able to watch the lives of others on screen. i also thought, how strange for someone to be watching us and how boring my family’s goings-on were compared to the ones we were lucky enough to watch. this all seems so juvenile now looking back but it was only just a pre-cursor to how much we are looking into and allowing other to look in on our lives. it’s all becoming so boring.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
2 months ago

Saying that Facebook is used for child pornography so we should get rid of it is a bit like saying physical money is used to buy illegal drugs so we should get rid of it. I don’t use Facebook but I use Reddit. It is no good for political discussions but it is great for niche subject matters like knitting, baking bread, antique cars, whatever. I assume that Facebook has brought lots of non-evil people together over such shared interests as well.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Wow, another logical comment. Thanks Peter – these are few and far between. I also use it to find things in communities as big as Cape Town. Go bigger than that and you need to divvy it up. The usefulness far outweighs the negatives.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago

I agree that Facebook has been a clear net-negative, but maybe Zuckerberg is too easy a scapegoat. Wouldn’t some other ambitious super-nerd on the spectrum have soon invented something like it, even if this particular manifestation of remote “society” was never launched?
It’s a bit like those who are too eager to call Donald Trump the source of so much present-day division, when he is more properly diagnosed as a symptom.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“….maybe Zuckerberg is too easy a scapegoat. Wouldn’t some other ambitious super-nerd on the spectrum have soon invented something like it, even if this particular manifestation of remote “society” was never launched?”
There are plenty of ambitious super-nerds out there. They are all excellent scapegoats for all sorts of things. My personal favourite in that regard us Musk (now that Jobs is dead anyway).

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 months ago

Acquaintances sometimes mock me for being on Facebook but I only joined to fight the gender wars. Articles are shared that I might not have seen, events are posted. I do confess to sharing some wonderful nature and art pictures…. If anyone starts blurting out private life stuff I stop seeing posts. Likewise I have never shared pictures of myself or my family, particularly children as nothing is private and I know enough about the darker side of life than to want their images to be public. People boasting about their holidays marvellous children etc really irritate me. Political discussion (of a limited kind) is also fun. And even occasional ads can help you get a solution to a problem (maybe one you never knew you had!!). So be selective and it’s all fine imo.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

“….events are posted”.
If someone has an event, and invitations are done only on FB, I won’t be there. I won’t even feel bad about not being there, because I won’t know the event is even on.

Mark epperson
Mark epperson
2 months ago

Zuckerberg has always been a sleazebag, so why would anyone think Facebook would be any different? Don’t subscribe to ANY of these platforms and if you really are pissed, don’t buy Apple products, don’t use Amazon for anything, and say goodbye to Google. The world will be a much better place, and very quickly if only 30 percent of folks cut the cord on these greedy, immoral companies.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark epperson

My own viewpoint entirely. I have never heard anything that suggests that FB might improve my life, so I have never used it (and doing something that would increase the wealth of somebody with as bad a haircut as Zuckerberg’s would stick in my craw in any event). I have also never used an Apple product, and never will.

RM Parker
RM Parker
2 months ago

“ In a relatively childish environment dominated by a few bullying types — say, in an adolescent girls’ school, or in a university” or in workplaces of my own acquaintance, where high school-style backstabbing and performative social grooming are de rigeur, along with a determinedly protracted adolescence. God I wish I could afford to retire!

Zaph Mann
Zaph Mann
2 months ago
Reply to  RM Parker

I think that Ms Stock wrote a piece on shopping recently referring to Au Bonheur des Dames by Emile Zola – the apartment store behaviour described in 1883 was similar to that lamented here and now. Social media is the illumination of that natural behaviours of competing humans in captive occupation

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
2 months ago

Go on, Doc Stock, have another go at those invisible paedos, you know you want to…

Incredible that in 2024 a person as smart as Stock still does not show the slightest flicker of skepticism concerning breathless revelations of “child sex trafficking”!

Richard Irons
Richard Irons
2 months ago

Uni of Sussex’s loss, Unherd’s gain..Fantastic, insightful article.

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 months ago

I like old cars and people who restore them. I like cats, scifi, books, music and sometimes what the James Webb satellite is seeing. FB is an opportunity to share these enthusiasms. I like a beer, in a pub. I don’t have to like or speak to everyone in the bar. Some people are thick, unpleasant, low IQ, with criminal tendencies. They are not like that because of FB, just advertising reality. They are a mouse click away from rejection. It’s a bad workman who blames his tools. Why throw the tools away?

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
2 months ago

Social media is what you make it – I have fun on Facebook with my friends and groups, I also have support there if I need it. The block function is there for a reason, use it if necessary. I’ve been on Facebook since 2008 and have made friends all over the world, predominantly because I am a gamer. Its also a record of my life – an honest one, not fakery and bullshit. Maybe its different for younger people, there was no such thing as social media when I was in my 20s (back in the 90s). Just because some users are idiots is no reason to decry social media completely. The same applies to those who use it for unpleasant purposes – this will always happen, whatever platform it is, the internet, and social media, is here to stay and we have to live with both the good and the bad aspects of it.

Jae
Jae
2 months ago

All these sites are malevolent in some way and they all work in tandem to a degree. Tik Tok is far more insidious and mind numbing than facebook I’d say, and YouTube will not allow you to skip its advertising.

With every good, and there is a good side to this, the sharing of memories among other things, comes its opposite, bad.

CF Hankinson
CF Hankinson
2 months ago

OK, I admit I tend towards the contrarian POV. But point is I really like my FB. Full of sweet brave clever amusing people, mainly dogs, I have to admit. Some great art and music from old friends and their offspring… .some private groups on rare conditions and other Groups of rare interest. Some fascinating links. And keeping in contact with said old friends at a nod and wink ‘still with us’ level, which is fine. Good company. There is no ONE FB. You make your own.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  CF Hankinson

Don’t forget that FB is the source of accurate and timely news….

Felix Hornoiu
Felix Hornoiu
2 months ago

It’s such a weird way that these tech tools are just filtering people from the world using masks, avatars or ‘enhancers’. When you know that the closer you are to showing (and accepting) your true and vulnerable self, the better you’ll be.
These are exactly the environments in which predators and gimmicky people would like to hang out, far from social circle validation and easily hackable. It’s not exactly a recipe for good stuff!

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
1 month ago

surely the final nail in the coffin for misty-eyed uses of the word “community”…

god I have grown so weary of the Progressive mis use of the term community I can’t stand it … Leave it to Ms. Stock to set it straight with a simple hand wave…