A little under forty years ago, Alexander Dewdney, a mathematician and computer scientist, postulated the existence of a two-dimensional universe. He began to explore the physics and chemistry of such a bizarre, incomprehensible yet paradoxically simple world, eventually writing a short scientific paper entitled Two-Dimensional Science and Technology, which sold out after a favourable review in Scientific American. Dewdney went on to write an utterly charming little novel called The Planiverse, about the inhabitants of a two-dimensional world where wars can only be fought by armies lining up and fighting each other two soldiers at a time, where a gastro-intestinal tract would split people in half, and where a rope serves as a parachute. Houses are underground to avoid causing obstructions and nails are impossible. Screws are inconceivable since they require three dimensions.
And yet, somehow, despite all its limitations, the Planiverse somehow works, in much the same way that Facebook works, provided you’re willing to accept rules dictated by the stunted one-dimensional emotional understanding of its senior management, most of whom, by virtue of their youth, have little life experience.
Facebook somehow works and yet manages to be even less multi-dimensional than the Planiverse, reducing the entire range of human interaction to Friends and Likes.
You Blarkkh. You Friend. Me like Blarkkh.
There you have it. This is how we’ve evolved, now that we no longer wear skins and survive on burnt rat-meat.
Instead we communicate with cyber-grunts on Facecave.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s head of news feed, knows all about emotions.
CNET has a simpering article positively creaming itself at the idea of receiving a ten-minute interview with the man who “built” Facebook’s Home while overlooking the fact that he built nothing. Brunel built things. Stephenson built things. Wren built things. Bernini built things. Trajan built things. Rice built things. Corbusier built things.
Facebook is a website. It doesn’t matter if it falls down. Nothing will happen.
Still, Adam Mosseri understands emotions intimately, with empathy, sympathy but definitely not apathy or antipathy. Adam gets it, which is why, when Facebook decided to expand their range of responses from the single all-purpose Like grunt, he got a crowd of sociologists on the job. Sociologists, as we all know, are the ideal people to explain human emotion to a Facebook wunderkind like Mosseri and besides, they’re ologists, so they know what they’re talking about. Right? Right??
Adam’s sociologists got on the job and boiled all human emotion down to six, in much the same way you might reduce a logic flow down to a set of NAND and NOR gates. Magic or coincidence? You decide. These are computer geeks we’re talking about here, even if they also happen to be billionaires.
They’re geeks. Limited geeks with extremely limited life experience and little or no empathy.
Geeks who think that all human emotion can be optimised to a reduced instruction set of feelings.
And what reduced set did these geniuses come up with?
That’s it. Human emotions in Facebookworld.
There’s no escaping the Orwellian parallels. This is Newspeak. This is Doubleplusungood. This, to be blunt about it, is bullshit.
In Facebook’s planiverse, all human emotion has been put through a minimisation table, optimised, standardised and homogenised, resulting in a much more efficient, stripped-down emotion set that will run on almost any empathy chipset.
Nice work, Facebook geniuses.
Let me remind you that these are the insecure prudes who continue to ban images of breastfeeding on the grounds of nudity.
These geniuses, may I point out, are the emotionally-stunted prudes who recently banned an ad by the Well Woman Centre promoting self-examination for breast cancer
Their reason? The ad was too “sexual”. They reversed the decision after the Irish Times challenged them on the issue, describing their decision as a “mistake.” Indeed.
What’s wrong with this picture? Could it be that our daily experience is being shaped by emotionally-inadequate idiot savants who have never experienced the problems that beset the lives of the adults who use their services? Could it be that we need to move beyond this and stop pandering to the inadequacies of people still striving for adulthood?
Perhaps it’s time some adult created social media for grown-ups.
These days, Alexander Dewdney is working as a mathematical biologist but maybe he could be persuaded to delve into the internet and contact the sad rich boys trapped in Facebook. Maybe he could pass on a message from the grown-up world that it’s still possible for them to become men.