So, these thoughts have been spinning around in my brain for a long time, waiting to come out some how. Maybe now is the time and here is the place.
As you can find, if you care to look, Facebook has become the Internet for third-world countries. I suggest we should add Mississippi and other chronically under-served communities to that list.
When I say that Facebook has become the Internet what I mean is this. If you remember or research AOL and the birth of the Web, you will see that for many/most people, when they turned on their computer they thought that whatever they were looking at was “the Internet”, or “the Web”, or whatever it is that other people talked about when they referenced “going online”, “surfing the Web”, or whatever. Well, through no fault of their own, they adopted this mistaken belief because no one was there to correct them, to educate them, to set them straight. Instead, they were victims of marketing, advertising, and other weapons of capitalism and profiteers and were given brand names and logos instead of proper terminology, vocabulary, and useful knowledge.
That led to AOL = The Internet for a large segment of the first generation of civilian Internet users. This presented many problems. For one, people who had problems with AOL would tell technical support that their Internet went down. Well, did it really? No, the problem was with AOL. And people would assume that the Internet was only as big as AOL presented it to be, and looked, physically, a certain way, because that’s how AOL thought it should look.
And it wasn’t just AOL. Don’t get me wrong. Any profiteer who had the opportunity to define the essential Internet or World Wide Web experience as their own certainly did so with vigor. In essence, they took what was free and good, slapped a bunch of gawdy dressing on it, limited it, created tiers of service for it for which they could charge lots of money, and began selling it to people.
I blame the technologists, in the end, for not heading this off in the first place, or at least responding strongly in a way to neutralize this manipulation and deception of the masses by telecommunications companies. I tried to do my part, as a person who was inside technology and could see what was happening, and thinking about what the logical consequences would be. So I started writing and blogging, voting with my dollars for online ventures that were ethical and sane and in the community’s best interest, and voting against companies that only sought to hurt the freedom of the collective commons that the Internet and the Web brought clear to us. That’s why I was a Google supporter in the beginning. That’s why I deleted my Facebook account. That’s why I did everything I did online the way I did it. I even wrote a college paper on it! 🙂