Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Facebook status

Just an observation...

When I comment on facebook about needing a new cell phone, preferably one that has email functions, I get several responses about what to (or not to) purchase. As a sidenote, I am annoyed by my dependency on my phone... I only got it in the first place because it was required by daycare, but now I feel naked without it.

However, when I write a post that has more meaningful social commentary, such as supporting the local OPSEU strike, I'm lucky if one person "likes" it... and this occurs even though my friends list is full of social activists and leftist grad students and professors (granted, they aren't the ones commenting on my cell phone choices).

Priorities, I guess. Sometimes it seems as though people (at least on facebook) are more invested in small purchases that have nothing to do with them than they are in important current events.


  1. I think not. I think Facebook is more about the social than about outside reality. I think people love to be socially appreciated for their opinion or their advice (on mobile phones for example), than to be reminded that they should be doing something about reality (be doing dishes or support a cause). It does not mean that they think mobile phones are more important than supporting a cause. I think probably all agree on the cause being more important. But people crave for satisfaction, most of all immediate appreciation, rather than be reminded that there's still so much to be done.

  2. I really hope you are right... and suspect that you are... but I wonder if it would be easier to mobilize support for various causes if people were more likely to comment on them instead of mobile phones.

  3. It is so easy to recognize each other as a passive consumer and share that predictable experience, than to see each other as the active producers of new and nonconformist experiences.

    So most people have to learn to appreciate class struggle and have to fight the cynical bias against it. They have to learn about the potential success of social struggle, the past successes, how the ordinary nobodys can emancipate themselves together and each grow personally. And they have to fight not just the bias of Fox News against it but also the bias in the complete omission of it in our educational system.

    The ruling ideas in any society are the ideas of the ruling class, because those who own the means of material production also own the means of idealogical production.

  4. Brilliantly put... and this is the reason bloggers, such as myself, should pause for a bit before hitting the post button when they are in a particularly cynical mood.

    To put some context behind this current moment of cynicism... I went to a picket line on campus yesterday. I wanted to spend a few hours on the picket line in solidarity with the strikers, but they had left for the day (this was shortly after lunch time). Yes, the weather was hot, but I have never seen a picket line just leave (especially on campus during an international conference the week that students and their families are beginning to arrive on campus).

    This strike gives them so much power in many ways, and will set a precedent for future negotiations at our university, and, as such, I am willing to ask my union for pretty much any kind of support they need, I am ready to refuse to go to classes (but they do not wish that we do so), to try and force the university to give them a fair collective agreement.

    So, to combine this with a few blatant examples of consumerism and public apathy (nevermind just apathy, last time I was at the picket line, I almost got rundown by a vehicle who was not happy about being stopped... other picketers have actually been hit), I just get annoyed.

  5. Your post is maybe more a criticism of the kind of interaction that facebook tends to produce than of people. If you want a phone, I can help you with a couple of words. If you want to talk about social justice, you are asking me to invest myself emotionally and intellectually, and I'm not sure that it is as rewarding to do that on facebook as it is face to face.
    In terms of consumer culture, I think it is true that most people spend more time thinking about their stuff than their society. The 'owners of the means of ideological production' argument isn't that convincing to me though. It's partial, at best. Culture is contested and hard to manipulate, and sometimes it trumps economics.

  6. Stephen, I'm not sure it is just a facebook thing considering that I seem to have the same conversations in person. I mention buying a phone or back to school shopping and people can talk for a while... I mention the strike and people seem reluctant to comment. You might be right that they don't want to invest themselves emotionally or intellectually, even face to face, I'm not sure.

    That being said, I would not say that culture trumps economics, as I think that it is difficult to separate the two, and insofar as you can try to make this distinction I hold the Marxist belief that the economic base shapes (if not determines) things like what I believe we are referring to when we say culture.