Zuckerberg’s Guinea Pig

On the first of May, 2018, sometime about a half-hour before noon, a bar appeared underneath every post on the social networking site Facebook.

I had awakened earlier, in a panic attack, and been scrolling my “newsfeed” in a wrongheaded attempt to relieve my state of depressive shock. Believe it or not, sometimes it works. I find pictures of kitties, or baby hedgehogs, or pretty girls with their whatnots hanging out. Maybe an inspiring story or a naughty bit of humor. I feel better, and get on with the tasks of the day.

But this new snitch bar made things way, way worse.

I thought maybe my browser was glitching, at first; after all, here was an option to report hate speech even underneath a video of a bunny rabbit herding sheep. But then I started to see friends posting in confusion over this same option, beneath every post on their feed. So I broke into rant mode (i.e., it was Tuesday). I was already mad, over I don’t even know what. Oh yeah: money. Like I said; Tuesday.

This was about to be “strike three” for me. This ship is pretty much sunk. I’m literally only here because I have friends and family who want to communicate with me easily, and fans who are interested in what I post. I also enjoy the FB groups. And being a 20-year Interneteran, I love mean humor and good trolls. When they go, I go. I’ll return to venting purely on my own site. It’ll be a relief for many people, believe me.

Zuckerberg: it’s social media. The more you police it, the more people you will alienate. And grudges are life-long these days. Mean memes about you are normal. That’s how people treat the boss, behind his or her back. They want to test how much the person in power can take. If users are clearly exploiting your service for evil, then you act. If you own a bar, and someone defaces the bathroom wall, you don’t punish the entire patronage of the bar and treat them like potential vandals. You don’t pay people to spy in the bathrooms.

You let people visit the bar like you normally would, and if you happen to catch someone writing on the bathroom wall, then you worry about it.

May 1st at 12:56pm

I doubt Mark Zuckerberg ever saw my message, and this is more than enough reason for my ex-girlfriend to laugh in my face, if she saw me devoting this much energy to fucking Facebook. Anyway.

Over the course of May 1, I loitered on Facebook, while occasionally posting updates on the state of my depression and anxiety. I ride this horse harder than I mean to, but the thing is, I live in public. Sometime around the turn of the century I constructed an animus, a functional craft-comedy persona, in which I now reside. I started posting my honest thoughts on the Internet in 2001. Since then I’ve strove to provide entertainment of unusual and unique quality on a quasi-daily basis. So if there’s a lapse, people notice.

Why not work through mental issues in public, to educate and entertain? Is that not the root of much humor? Aren’t most 21st century entertainers (your “vloggers”, and the like) open about their internal struggles?

How would anyone know that pot is the panacea for these mental issues, unless I told them, when I came to that conclusion after a friend got me stoned?

What if I was falsely reported for “hate speech”, by someone who didn’t like or disagreed with me? What is hate speech, anyway? Have I not probably already done it? Is this it, the final push?

What if only some of us got the hate speech report option?

To recap: I was already suffering, and I subjected myself willingly to more. I became overwhelmed with paranoia. Despite the fact that this was all a voluntary experience, on someone else’s digital property.

Somewhere along the way, I became convinced that I could gain money and exposure through Facebook. Truthfully, that was correct. I have maintained a tenuous relationship with this monster for eight years at this point. It’s one of the only ways to spread material successfully these days. And there’s a lot to be said for seeing the person you’re typing to, even thousands of miles away.

But that’s kind of where the problem lies.

Great humor requires passion, and passion is inextricably linked with emotion. Although I vehemently believe one should not be emotional on the Internet, in weaker moments I indulge. Let’s face it, it’s part of the excitement. It’s another line a lot of us like to walk.

It just doesn’t lead anywhere.

By now, we’ve all formed habits regarding Internet use. Mine is to create something every day, either for profit or to “grow the brand”. If I get into bed at night without having inched the progress needle in some way, I feel like I wasted that day farting around on the Internet. Anything I post, however small or insignificant, is intended to keep me and my brand fresh in people’s minds. This is the pact. Keep things professional, not personal.

So for the protection of myself and my brand, I prepared to break from Facebook once and for all, because of the “hate speech” option. I had allowed this fucking social media network to jack my emotions around for hours. Time to go.

Turns out it was a fuckup. Kinda like the “missile incoming: this is not a drill” text Hawaii residents got a few months ago, but without the soft touch. By early afternoon I was seeing links to Forbes and MSN about it. Heads rolled. I’ve already seen notices from Facebook HQ promising vague but sweeping changes that will make us guinea pigs fall in love all over again. Literally; they are adding some sort of dating network. Which is what I thought Facebook originally was.

It’s a business. Nothing more, nothing less.

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