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Op-Ed

Face the music and cringe

October 8, 2021

Nobody needs Facebook except Mark Zuckerberg. If people with no desperate need for attention use Reply All instead of that reptilian-brain moneysuck, we’d all be better off.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

Aside from that fact that it’s a revolting company run by a revolting man, I don’t see why folks are all in a tizzy about Facebook. Here’s a startling thought: If you don’t like it, don’t sign up, or cancel. What’s the big deal?

Most email programs have a Reply All feature, so you can schmooze with all the friends you want with a single click. You don’t need Facebook for anything.

The company is unbelievably intrusive. It snoops on you and your friends and sells information about you to other companies nearly as obnoxious as it is. So do Google, Amazon, and many of the companies you buy things from online.

I use Amazon as seldom as possible, usually when I want an out-of-print book and can’t find it anywhere else. And I find it annoying that three seconds later, when I return to any of the world’s more than 1.2 billion websites, an ad pops up saying, “You might also like,” because I just ordered “Augustus Carp, Esq.”

But I’m a big boy. I can ignore the pop-ups, and make a note not to deal with any of the sellers that descended on me like blood-sucking mosquitoes hungry for my bank account (type A negative).

Google is just as bad, though I admit I use it, because I’m in the news business. Just a minute ago, I googled to find out how many websites there are (1,216,435,462, “according to Netcraft’s July 2021 Web Server Survey,” with 252,000 new websites created every day, 10,500 new sites every hour, 175 new sites every minute, and 3 new sites every second).

The site to which Google directed me for this fascinating, useless information informed me that more than 2,000 new websites would be created “by the time you are done reading this article” — a ridiculous statement, as neither Google nor Netcraft knows how fast I read, or whether I even bothered to read the article, which I did not, and even if I did, it wouldn’t have taken me 666.666 seconds, or 11 minutes and 6 seconds to do it.

And as for the worldwide crash that took Facebook offline Monday, costing businesses a whole lotta money: Well, maybe you should think of pushing your wares elsewhere, on your own sites, rather than hitching your life to a megalomaniac’s quest for world domination.

No one forces you to use any website at all. You’re free to choose among the 1.2 billion and counting, or to use none of them. And if you do use a website, and are immediately bombarded with ads, it should tip you off that the website is run by greedy conscienceless creeps — like Zuckerberg, but not as rich — and you should stay away from it.

My favorite website (aside from www.courthousenews.com) is www.vialibri.com. This is a website for out-of-print books. It asks you for title and author, then shows a list of sellers, prices, physical conditions of the books, and a short summary, and you can buy them from the sellers with a couple of clicks — thereby avoiding Amazon. Damn near as big a goal for me as getting the book.

I just searched vialibri for one of my own books, and found it listed at $8.45 from a bookstore in Colorado, and $138, from — guess — Amazon. And since they’re both used, and I won’t get any royalties from it, I suggest you buy it for $8.45.

But getting back to Facebook. The argument has been made recently, e’en in the Halls of Congress (talk about blood-sucking insects hungry for bank accounts) that Facebook and its degenerate offspring “amplify” lying, right-wing, racist and neo-Nazi posts to juice up their subscriber “base,” by making them angry, to get more traffic and targeted ads, i.e., money.

I believe it. But so what?

Nobody needs Facebook except Zuckerberg. And he don’t need no more money than he already gots. (Sic.)

If people with the shred of a conscience, and no desperate need for attention, use Reply All instead of that reptilian-brain moneysuck, and cancel their accounts, then Facebook’s “base” would shrink, and reveal the company, over time, as the voracious demon it is: a convenience for racists and other deluded maniacs too cowardly to spread their venom anywhere but under pseudonyms online. And a handy tool for people who should know better by now.

What would be the harm in exposing Facebook as this?

Wouldn’t do no harm at all. (Mark Twain accepts this grammar.)

And no, I didn’t call any of Facebook’s 300+ public relations flacks for a comment, or the dozens of its ancillary PR firms, because I’ve been a news reporter and editor for 37 years, and I know bullshit when I see it.

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