Sunday, April 14, 2019

REWARD AND PUNISHMENT IN THE FACEBOOK UNIVERSE

In recent years thousands of Facebook users have experienced being summarily blocked from posting for purportedly infringing something vaguely referenced as “Community Standards.” Initially the block is imposed for 24 hours. For second “offences” the block is extended to three days, then a week. Repeat offenders are blocked a whole month. I don’t know if anyone has ever been blocked for an entire year.

Terminal mammophobia, priggish hysteria induced by the mere sight of female nipples

Facebookers call this sinister form of cyberpunishment “Facebook Jail” and for those who have grown accustomed to the 24/7 flow of virtual chatter and armchair voyeurism that has made Facebook a virtual universe unto itself, being prevented from posting or even liking someone else’s post is an oddly traumatic experience.

Only the easily aroused qualify as
Community Standards enforcers
First, Facebook makes you feel connected to a vast planetary network of other humans, getting your daily dose of dopamine through likes and friendly comments... then, abruptly and without warning, it pulls the plug on you, disconnecting you from the virtual world you’ve grown accustomed to, leaving you mute, separated by an invisible wall, like a ghost.

In effect, being pounced upon by Facebook’s unbelievably prim and prudish censorbots is a painful reminder that we are ultimately powerless against monolithic algorithms generated by faceless, soulless but extremely well-paid nerds who, I wouldn’t be surprised, jerk off to glossy photos of Nurse Ratched (the personification of “community standards” in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest).

The acute sense of frustration, crushing injustice and ultimate futility reduces us to feeling like so many Winston Smith clones sipping on Victory Gin. It reminds us in no uncertain terms that Big Brother is Watching Us and there’s really nowhere to hide, no one to turn to.

Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in MiloŇ° Forman's 1975 film of Ken Kesey's
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

And to rub salt into the psychological wound, there is no appeal to anyone or anything remotely human, even if you submit a request for a review of your punishment. Facebook remains inscrutably Faceless: a cold, impassive stone wall with no beginning and no end. It teases you into typing an explanation or protest into a tiny box on the screen… then disallows you from submitting it, because you have been blocked from posting. It’s the ultimate Catch-22 in Cyberspace. Whoever designed this cruel, tyrannical template must have read everything Franz Kafka ever wrote and then converted to radical Orwellianism.


Meanwhile, the corporate cyborgs at Facebook have been auctioning off our personal data to the highest bidder for years, turning two billion Facebook users into a data goldmine without our knowledge or permission. They are the criminals, not us. They are the ones who totally deserve to be put in jail – analog, not digital!



Antares Maitreya
14 April 2019

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