May 18, 2011

On the sham called "Facebook" - P.S.

Man is a make-believe animal - he is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part.
   -- William Hazlitt

I wrote two days ago about Facebook, that got downloaded quite a lot, and want to make some clarifying remarks.

1. Phoenix Rising and the MEA on Facebook

Being sometimes remarkably naive, and avoiding Facebook, I was informed that in fact Phoenix Rising is - also - on Facebook, and Cort Johnson, The Owner of Phoenix Rising, also has his own Facebook page(s).

Well... as I hope to have made clear
about Facebook, I think it is especially problematical for people with ME in the US, England and Holland, who like(d) to speak the truth about ME, but depend on the dole or bureaucracies: Thanks to Facebook, if you are on it, you may be found, checked, inspected, spied upon, and charted, with all your "Facebook  friends", family, pictures, contacts and all.

If this is what you, your
"Facebook  friends", your family and contacts all like and approve, now and in the future, and if you love your local secret service - "The Facebook Revolution" in Syria and environs surely means it makes Assad's government much easier to track and trace you, and pull your nails, for daring to think for your self - then I suppose you deserve what you get, "personalized ads" and all.

Meanwhile, persons with ME/CFS, especially in England, better realize that they are not safely anonymous on Facebook, and anything they have said there can be used against them, eventually, maybe years into the future.

2. "It's the datamining, stupid"

Another thing I should make clear - if it isn't - is that I am not against computerized virtual "social networks", although I also believe that, as they presently work, with text and non-moving images, it is mostly pseudo-social make-believe, where you don't meet real people in real time, but such texts and pictures as they feel fit to put on line, in that computerized environment.

If you believe that exchanging pieces of text on a public board is more than virtual socializing, then you are free to your own delusions. Indeed, things would be different - is my guess - if computers were fast enough to enable people to engage on line with cameras, and discuss as in real life, where they can see each other, and react spontaneously, but (1) I don't see this happen soon, except in a quite limited way, and not on sites styled as 'social networks', because of the great amounts of traffic necessary to make this work, and (2) again there is the problem that what you put on line may be used against you, wholly apart from (3) all the secret datamining The Owners of the site do with whoever they succeeded in signing up.

Since I wrote about datamining a year ago, and don't feel like repeating myself, here is a link, written for Phoenix Rising on April 25 2010, and clear enough about the dangers involved
I must infer - Cort Johnson and Phoenix Rising both being on that walhalla of dataminers called "Facebook" - that The Owner of Phoenix Rising doesn't mind that the members of his outfit are datamined, but I do, and the last link is quite clear about the dangers.

3. Personal creativity

Mr Hodgkinson wrote and I quoted

Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway.

I mostly agree, but am a little more realistic, cynical, or concerned:

First, what Facebook is apart from a dataminers' Walhalla, which the reason it exists, is a wrapper for messages and pictures, that has a considerable slickness, looks nice, and does not take any trouble to create for those using it.

There are many such wrappers, also freely available, known as "forum software", and they enable many forums, with varying success and slickness. I know quite a few of them as a visitor or indeed as a member with forums about programming, generally in some specific language: The ones I know of or am a member of work tolerably well, and are not set up to find out about you and sell your data to dataminers, and are not commercial affairs, pretending to be about "socializing" and "sharing", but really groups of people using forum software to communicate about some specific subject with others who are interested in that subject.

The main reason these forums work tolerably well seems to be that these forums are a fairly select group with a fairly clear purpose: Find out things about programming in a specific programming environment or language, and meet people - or rather: read text from people - who share that interest.

Second, while this also happens on Facebook, this is not what Facebook's purpose is, which is to get information about its users that it can sell to those who want to use its users for their own ends.

Third, participating in a forum does not demand any personal creativity beyond writing text and uploading images. This indeed is part of the appeal of a forum and part of the reason for the existence of forum software: To enable users to communicate about something without hassle or investment of more time than necessary to write one's  messages - which may be fair enough, and useful.

Then again, it is a pity - it seems to me - much energy and time gets wasted on posting stuff on forums that could have been used on a personal site, to outline one's own take on things, and do something creative oneself.

Then again - it is a melancholic thought, but fair enough - most persons just may not have it in them, and are on Facebook because they lack the capacity, the ideas, the character, to make a site of their own, with ideas of their own, that also is not part of someone else's commercial plans and commercial software.

Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.

As an aside a remark on my html-editor: I am very pleased to say this text was written in KompoZer 08.b3 and not in MS Frontpage.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

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