Tuesday, October 26, 2021


Back in the days when waterways were the means of travel for commerce, power went to those who controlled the coastlines. An Isthmus was a gateway from one large body of water to another, and that is why those landforms were the sites of the greatest powerful cities and empires of the ancient world. Then we (humans) added roads, which, in Europe, all led to Rome.

We had bridges and aqueducts, boats that delivered goods (and people, sometimes as property, in the case of slaves) across oceans. People bought and sold shares in the companies that did this (including Handel). Then we had railroads, which made huge amounts of money for the people that owned them and owned shares in the companies, car companies and travel by highway moved the monopoly of train travel elsewhere. The we had radio broadcasting, newspaper publishing, and television broadcasting as the center of power.

And with Facebook we have found our way to a “place” where the people who have the most power are the people who have managed to control the way people, who would normally be able to communicate just fine without a tool that makes communication almost effortless, dependent on the kind of communication that Facebook offers. 

It has made communication through its platforms the ONLY way that some people communicate with their neighbors about events in their own communities because the platform is so easy to use. People who don’t participate in Facebook often don’t know what is going on in their own community because the local press has dwindled to almost nothing. And in the case of my community and communities that are like mine in Illinois, newspapers are not even locally owned, and do not report much (if anything) about what is happening in a town if it doesn’t have something to do with commerce.

So, in a way, Facebook has, by controlling the flow of "culture," managed to make natural kinds of culture (the local kind) hard to participate in. And it can render invisible things and events that are not shiny, glowing, convenient, amusing, and instant. If it disappears we (as human beings) will find other ways of communicating. Maybe after the pandemic we will find more joy in interacting socially in ways that don’t involve a multi-billion-dollar company making money from our relationships.

I sure hope so.

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