My relationship with Facebook has evolved over the years. Initially I was indifferent, then grudgingly gave it a chance; soon I was caught up in its allure. Then we became like old friends, separable for long periods without rancour on either side, yet enjoying each other’s company when we could.
Still, I have my misgivings: Facebook, I find, calls to a certain part of me -- the part labelled “consumer” -- with an effectiveness I find worrying.
Not that being called “consumer” is anything new: possibly hundreds of marketing departments worldwide have labelled me that since babyhood. What’s new is my own increasing awareness of my consumptive abilities, thanks to a host of media, Facebook (and increasingly, Twitter) being among the most able. Worse, these creations have grown in their ability to make my uptake ever more intuitive.
You know what I mean: the endless stream of games and photos and trend topics, the “Like” and “Retweet” buttons that spare me the need to type a single word to make myself heard, the amazingly ingenious means by which they see to it that I needn’t miss a single shot of my regular fix of feeds -- and how can I leave out the all the wonderful apps that set them free from my PC by launching it into my email and phone?
But while I consume all this media, that initial fact -- that these are creations -- niggles at me. I don’t know for certain, but I could bet my job Mark Zucks and the Twitter guys weren’t on any social networks when the ideas hit them. And even on the very off chance they were, I’ll bet two jobs they didn’t develop them there.
I’ll tell you why I think that’s a big deal. I want to own the world, you see. (I’m sure you do too... You don’t? Forgive me, then: wrong number.) But I strongly believe the world belongs not to the creative, but to creators: not to those who can make things happen, but to those who do make things happen. Except that making things happen -- creating -- is the direct antithesis of consumption. And especially of mindless consumption, which I could almost swear is the particular variety Mark and co. would have me indulge in.
So thanks, guys, but no thanks. Sure, I’ll keep consuming, but not at the expense of some creating of my own. Like this post.