In one of the comments threads, a debate has just opened on the nature of Facebook. Below is the first comment (Terry responding to John), but please get involved in the discussion!
‘John, the point of facebook is an interesting one, as I see facebook as an inherently capitalist phenomenon, something that might simply not occur in a (utopian) socialist society. Its tenets revolve around a) voyeurism – but in a purely reductive/sexualised manner, creating yourself as spectacle and viewing others in this way (I like particularly the fact that you can pay money for cyber ‘gifts’ in the sense that even the gift is reduced to a pure symbol). b) following from this, the reduction of one’s life to a host of easily interpreted signs (these very pictures/groups/likes and dislikes). c) procrastination – which for me is the central point of facebook, underneath it all, and explains the natural extension of the site from one of communication to the incorporation of apps such as farmville. Once again, ‘opiate for the masses.’
Not only is facebook an inherently capitalist production, then, but it is capitalism’s logical extension (amongst other phenomena).
Going on from this, what would socialist facebook look like? Well, who knows, but it would be informed by a socialist ideology and therefore manifest the tendencies of the culture in question.
That is to say that whilst the communicative aspects of facebook are truly excellent, it is otherwise obnoxious – like capitalism itself.’