Thursday, September 12, 2013

So, has Facebook made us less human?


In the movie "Network", Howard Beall asked the rhetorical question, "What's so bad about dehumanization?"  Like so many issues raised by that movie 37 years ago, this question is relevant today.  Facebook is under fire for planning changes to its privacy policy. There is much hyperventilation.

We are commodities. Corporations break us down into demographic and psychographic categories being judged by our marketing attractiveness.  Our government breaks us down into categories based on the degree of national threat we pose, based on our digital communication.  We are categorized.  We always were but now what we buy, where we shop, what we say, what we view online, what we say online---is all being scrutinized by someone who doesn't know or care about us.

So, what's so bad about dehumanization?  We will go to work today or look for work today, care about our families and complain about the deficiencies in our government and take for granted those things in our government that do work.  We are going to have the same day we had 37 years ago.  Except our privacy is being compromised and we are aware of it.  Have we truly lost our freedom and have our lives materially changed due to all this information being tracked?  The philosophical arguments with these practices are compelling. The practical effects of this seem a bit less obtrusive or life changing.  

Are we any less human today then 37 years ago?

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