It hasn’t been a good year for Facebook
. We can all agree on that. I’ve been very vocal about this online. I like Facebook, but their culture and management get on my nerves
. For a while now, I’ve been trying to understand why.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years. When I got into technology, it was because I believed technology could fix many problems. Technology turns labor-intensive processes into easy ones. It produces efficiencies that enable economies of scale. Scale that can be leveraged to help and serve more people.
With age and experience, I’ve evolved my perceptions. Technology is incredible, but infusing it with quasi-mythological powers is a gross misconception. The world isn’t as clean and straightforward as technology wants it to be. While advancement is welcome, we spend most of our time wrestling in the mud of humanity.
As my experience grew, I began to fix my attention, not to the technology per se, but to what that enabled or achieved. I realized that while new products or services are great, they’re shrouded in context. Human context. Isolating the impact of such innovations from the people that are touched by them is a dangerous and costly mistake.
The reach and impact of our current innovations have grown dramatically in the last five years. We’ve gone from a company that served five million users, to world-dominating empires.
This growth has implications. There is a cost that we all have to pay. And it’s precisely this cost that most are ignoring and brushing away. We want global reach and recognition but no responsibility. We want an Augustus treatment but shrug away the burden of disruption. In the climb to Olympus, we are willing to sacrifice everything. Machiavelli would be proud of us.
The problem though is that we don’t live in isolation. Consequences have the nasty habit of catching up with you. And this is precisely what’s happening to Facebook
When I look at them, I see the reflection of the technocratic elites. And it makes me cringe. I see young people clinging to the brand as a way to find their own identity. I behold talented people offering their happiness and mental wellbeing to the altars of the tech gods. Their reward, a sit at the table, a place away from the homelessness.
Technology is creating a difference in classes
. You are either a tech insider, or you’re not. If you’re a member of our club, you get exclusive benefits like access to better networks, more knowledge, and better salaries. If you’re not in technology, we don’t care. You should learn how to code. You should get yourself a nanodegree
online. You should be using car sharing platforms instead of using the broken public transport system.
The one thing this narrative doesn’t highlight is the fact that only a particular elite has access to this
. In the process of bettering the world, we’re creating moats that are, single-handedly, making the world the roughest place
to many strata of society.
And it’s this myopia, this lack of awareness and responsibility, this egoism of tech buddies first, everyone else later, that makes me ashamed of Facebook.
Their problem isn’t one of technology. It’s one of culture.
They don’t want to do evil. They’ve just built an overly simplistic model of the world according to their algorithms. And they trust it and they believe in it, and they don’t question it, and they lived chained by it.
And it’s reckoning time.
The current narrative spun by the social network’s culture is “trust us, we know better.” The truth is, facts have shown, they don’t. The truth is, no one does.