Thoughts on Facebook

Well, it’s been a few days and I must say that Facebook has a horrible user interface. That, however, isn’t anywhere near as important as the scary interconnectedness of all things that Facebook ably demonstrates; Dirk Gently would be able to solve pretty much everything using Facebook. All things are connected to it and everyone you know, it seems, know each other.

Now, I realise that the notion of ‘Friend’ on Facebook is fairly loose; acquaintances are ‘Friends,’ colleagues are ‘Friends,’ et al, and to this you can add the stigma attached to not friending when they request it off of you. This means that ‘Friend’ in Facebook land is a term that really doesn’t resemble ‘Friend’ in the common parlance. Still, even granting this loose notion the number of people who know of your other ‘Friends’ is staggering; the human population is much smaller than I ever thought, or, at least, the interconnectedness of the human population is much greater than previously I had expected/accepted.

Which makes sense. I go on a lot about how the basic unit of humanity is not the individual but the group (which is two or more people1), and that high group cohesion is a good thing. This all feeds into my pragmatic coherentist reliabilism, where social knowledge is developed, maintained and disseminated by group activity; Facebook, as an example of how we know others, seems to show that friendship networks (for Facebook’s definition of ‘Friend’) are more pervasive than I thought.

Although, really, I shouldn’t have thought otherwise. I admit to my misanthropy quite happily, so my optimism about human nature is fairly low and my expectations for it working out in the end even lower, but still, given that I wholeheartedly think that humans exist in relationship to other humans it only makes sense that these relationships should be complex. Facebook complexifies2 slightly further, but, well, what is humanity and its nature if not just a little overwrought and dramatic in its failure to be simple?

Of course, I may well be over thinking the entire deal; like a kid in a candy store I’m probably seeing too much in this social networking thing. I can see that, eventually, the novelty of adding friends will just become quite dull and I’m not convinced quizzes are the answer…

Talking about pessimism, this article on the death of Facebook looks like a classic case of an academic also over thinking Facebook.

At least I am not alone.

Notes

  1. The other day, when talking with Mr. Litterick, we did discuss whether one could be alone if there were no other people. I don’t think you could be alone if there was no one else around. We then ended up talking about Hegel and god-entities and whether the god-entity would ever forgive you for wiping out all other life; it would eventually get lonely, you see, and might have to forgive…
  2. If that is even a real word