Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spengler on Facebook and, more importantly, on Egypt

The mania didn't begin in the Middle East. Goldman Sachs invested $450 million in Facebook last month, placing a $50 billion valuation on the enterprise, and JPMorgan reportedly will do the same for Twitter. A dozen years ago, a pair of college dropouts in cutoff jeans could stumble into the oak-paneled offices of venture capital firms and walk out with eight figures' worth of startup capital. Facebook and Twitter sound like deja vu all over again.

Why should a social networking site have a market capitalization equal to DuPont or Metropolitan Life? It stands as an index of the anomie of the life of young adults in the industrial world, the apartment-and-cubicle dwellers who do not have friends, but only Facebook friends.

One made real friends in the deep past in the army, in church, or other venues that elicit deep loyalties. In the dystopia of youth culture, one encounters drinking buddies rather than comrades-in-arms, and hookup dates rather than romantic involvements. People lead trivial lives - lives, that is, unseasoned by sacrifice, by deep commitment to God, country, or even a prospective spouse.

Social networking elevates the trivial. Young people who have no intimate connection to each other, and no enduring tie to any institution, nonetheless feel a need for human contact. Facebook makes it seem that tiresome pursuit of pleasure, banal tastes, and gossip somehow add up to human interaction.

Click here to read the more important stuff of Spengler's article. For those who don't know, Spengler is a blogger who remained anonymous until two years ago, when he revealed his identity as David Goldman. This move became necessary as he was hired as one of the editors of First Things , a conservative publication that deals with the place of religious views in the public square.

Asia Times Online

Personally, I can't stand Facebook. Open up my page to read comments such as "I just woke up and went out on the deck" - who cares? "I got really drunk last night" - big deal! Facebook seems to be the page where people can dump their mental garbage for everyone to see. Yuck! For the most part, it is pretty harmless if stupid.

But when it can bring about mass action as it just did in Egypt, this is truly scary.

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