Selfies from the 9/11 Memorial

After visiting Auschwitz in June, I argued that photographing and sharing pictures of places where atrocity has happened—specifically, Auschwitz and Birkenau—was essential for recognizing and acknowledging that history.

We should keep posting—and sharing—photographs of places where horror has happened until these places inevitably disintegrate, even if the photo of such a place does not fit so neatly into a social network, where the crass language of the sharing community—“likes,” “hearts,” “selfie,” “re-gram” etc., etc., can denigrate the austerity of an image. If we use social media for only the happy or banal events in life—weddings, brunches, signs with terrible grammar—well, why bother?

The 9/11 memorial makes me reconsider that thesis, if only because it feels built to be photographed. It’s glitzy, tactile, antiseptic and commercial all at once.

Skeleton Profile

In Rebecca Cusey’s Facebook Has Become My Manipulative Boyfriend:

It was hard, but I shut it down. First I downloaded all the photos and updates I’d made in more innocent, trusting days when Facebook was bright and new. Then I deleted my account. Since I have to manage social media for work, I must have a skeleton account. I made a profile, locked the privacy options down, and entered only professional data. I made my wall public, but I only post my articles there. I accept any friends, but I mute their feeds so that I don’t have a constant stream of chatter coming at me. I’d rather be off Facebook altogether, but this is a compromise that works for me. I have similar rules of engagement for Twitter and Instagram as well.

Facebook used to offer account-types solely for managing pages. I don’t think they’ve offered that as of a few years ago. It’s what I started looking for when I wanted to nuke my profile. I tried everything: looking for pages-only options, tried signing up under my work email, tried inviting my work email as a Facebook page admin. Even if it was possible at some point FB transitioned to only letting you use your real identity, which could explain why I’ve noticed more people using fake names.

I’m not sure that matters. If everyone knows Mr. Pink is really Richard Franklin (pretend this is a real person for a second) then what difference does it make? Facebook doesn’t need to know your real name to target you if you provide it your location and interests, not to mention all the data it’s pulling from your browsing history.

What’s the difference between this and a profile you just don’t post to anymore? I guess if you start from scratch you don’t have any history.

And if Facebook is so poor at respecting our trust and helping us manage our relationships between our friends, what does that say about how it manages our relationships to organizations we want to be associated with? If that is also poor (the algorithm changes this year suggest it’s even worse), then why even have a Facebook page for your company or organization?

And if it doesn’t make sense for you to have a profile to stay in touch with friends or to have a page to promote your organization – THEN WHY ARE WE STILL ALL ON FACEBOOK?

I can only think of two reasons.

  1. We are all on Facebook because it’s better than nothing.
  2. We are all on Facebook because we are all on Facebook.

Brands Aren’t Teenage Girls

Selfie is now a word most often heard out of the mouths of marketing execs, the ones who call youth marketing agencies and say, “Let’s do something with selfies!” “I hear that all the time,” says Gregg Witt, chief engagement officer of Immersive Youth Marketing. “They’re either a full poseur or someone who wants to fit in. Man, it’s like 50 days late and a million dollars short to say that.” As the selfie makes its final duck face, let’s consider this last chapter of its legacy: Trend chasing in the Internet era is desperate and lazy. And bad for business.

I guess narcissism is only acceptable when attractive girls do it?

The Internet With A Human Face

Reading over this piece about how the Internet never forgets, you realize that privacy invasions and security risks aren’t just about Facebook.

The online world is very different. Online, everything is recorded by default, and you may not know where or by whom. If you’ve ever wondered why Facebook is such a joyless place, even though we’ve theoretically surrounded ourselves with friends and loved ones, it’s because of this need to constantly be wearing our public face. Facebook is about as much fun as a zoning board hearing.

And how times really have changed.

The degree of centralization is remarkable. Consider that Google now makes hardware, operating systems, and a browser.

It’s not just possible, but fairly common for someone to visit a Google website from a Google device, using Google DNS servers and a Google browser on the way.

This is a level of of end-to-end control that would have caused us to riot in the streets if Microsoft had attempted it in 1999. But times have changed.

Identity Through Links

The Shallow Selfishness of Social Media Sharing:

Maybe you and everyone in your social network or Twitter feed are engaged in a deep and enriching exchange of ideas. But collectively the dissemination of information through social media fuels what is really only an illusion of that process — a solipsistic and ultimately unedifying one.

That’s because at bottom, social sharing of information is often not actually about sharing information. It’s about the sharer letting everyone know that they are knowledgeable or right-thinking or caring.

I feel guilty of this all the time. What do I get out of posting things on social networks other than trying to show people how smart I am?

This is an area where I think friendships vs interests come into play. I may not be friends with people who (still) read this site, but we share the same interests – otherwise they wouldn’t keep reading. But if I post things on Facebook I accomplish almost nothing – in fact people get annoyed when others post too much in “their” news feed.

I’ve also felt this way, often unfollowing friends who post nothing other than political garbage or links to things I may find low-value or distasteful. And forget about offering an opposing view on the links they share. You’re asking for an argument. Whoever posted it will feel like it’s an attack on their world views and it will strain the friendship, if it can even be considered a friendship.

I LOVE getting into arguments with friends. It’s sometimes the most lively and enlightening thing that can happen, but for that to happen you need friends to see it as a debate of ideas, not of us vs them.

Facebook vs. Page Owners

Facebook Hashes It Out With a Brand in Public

There’s a misunderstanding of what the problem is for page owners. Facebook is double-dipping. Page owners had to earn their likes, sometimes using ad campaigns and other Facebook sponsored methods to do so. They put like buttons everywhere on their site, on their emails, on their blogs. They spread the Facebook brand far and wide so they could have a regular-people way to reach those who cared about their brands.

And now Facebook wants to charge again to reach those fans that page owners have already earned.

You would be upset too.

“Why I Hate Read Receipts”

It’s the first thing I turn off on a new iOS thingy.

Read receipts are transitioning from a quirky, semi-invasive e-mail option to an always-on feature in messaging services like Facebook, but they aren’t always welcome. In many instances, they create a mild, uncomfortable social pressure—just enough to keep you talking a little longer than you might want.

I’ve stated how much I’ve liked FB Messenger before, but by making read receipts mandatory it’s kind of a deal-breaker. Now I hardly ever initiate conversations from it.

The Dark Side Of Conviction

Psychologists know that having political views that strongly oppose others’ has a gratifying and rewarding effect. It gratifies us because it allows us to feel as though we’re part of a team. It feels good for the simple reason that it helps us to feel connected and forget ourselves for a period of time—we become immersed in something larger. But at its most extreme, partisanship becomes psychologically addictive. It leads to fundamentalism and blind, unquestioning faith. This is the dark side of strong conviction.

Snark Per Minute

Years ago we were Time’s person of the year. Now we’re like audience members of a late night show that try to be funny and fail.

Valley of The Blahs:

It feels as if we’re all trying to be a cheeky guest on a late-night show, a reality show contestant or a toddler with a tiara on Twitter — delivering the performance of a lifetime, via a hot, rapid-fire string of commentary, GIFs or responses that help us stand out from the crowd. We’re sold on the idea that if we’re good enough, it could be our ticket to success, landing us a fleeting spot in a round-up on BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post, or at best, a writing gig. But more often than not, it translates to standing on a collective soapbox, elbowing each other for room, in the hopes of being credited with delivering the cleverest one-liner or reaction. Much of that ensues in hilarity. Perhaps an equal amount ensues in exhaustion.

Just follow people you actually like. I’ve set aside the snark to a list for when I need to get my fill. Oddly, I don’t go to that list as much as I thought I would.


Not all of that is snark…that probably happened in between the gaps.