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Patient Zero September 16, 2017

Posted by voolavex in Social Issues, Social Media.
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“The thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open.” Mark Zuckerberg. Wired 2010.

Thus spake Zuckerberg.  And with a certain amount of youthful naiveté, he and his colleagues unleashed upon this planet something so alluring, so fascinating, so innocent that not a soul could have imagined, as did J. Robert Oppenheimer, post A-Bomb, that they had become death.

Does that sound harsh?  I don’t believe it began harshly.  Zuckerberg is a genius and has a good heart by and large – not bad attributes to possess. And because he seems to also possesses a healthier moral compass than many of his generation, I am trying to envision how he could have envisioned Facebook as anything but an asset to the world and a force for openness and harmony for the planet Earth. And I wonder if he still believes this or has suddenly realized, as the mushroom cloud of social media blotted out the sun, that he had weaponized  the world at the same time. Facebook has placed that little angel on one shoulder and that little devil on the other.  Both are multi-lingual and each ones single job is to persuade.  I think I would be harsh to characterize “social media” as a pathogen, yet it begs for this descriptor too.  Some folks catch it and others seem immune.

On this very day,  this man and his creation are being named as the villain in the Russian US 2016 election debacle.  What if it had been MySpace or another social media site?  I suspect Zuckerberg did not stop to think about the balance of good and bad on this lonely plane; anymore than Bell did when he got a dial tone.  Or a HAM Radio Operator when he first smelled the bacon.    Yet, because, as a species, we have been created with very bellicose instincts  and lots of greed, it might have been examined.  And those clubs that cavemen wielded were not for show.  And dragging women by the hair is a gender based tradition. We wage war constantly. We do not wage peace.  Religion short-cons the species to hope for peace – but it has never actually said we would get it.  But we got war; maiming, murdering, torturing, raping and pillaging.   Nobody human ever wanted to buy the world a Coke. Still, I don’t think Zuckerberg realized that the monster he had created would metastasize like those brooms and buckets in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Or the Spanish Flu. Or AIDS.

So now we have a very small whirling planet, beaten and pimped by anyone who can figure a way to get more from their own “brand”. ( FYI – a brand is a hot iron poker that burns an ID on the skin of animals (and people). You can have your logo tattooed  onto your own skin. In my mind they are very similar). Does anyone truly imagine Mark foreseeing this?  Do you think he created an algorithm for this?   Of course not.  Even J. Robert could see what he had unleashed.  I truly do not believe this was on Mark’s mind.

It’s far cry from the “Harvard Face Book” to the lethal air it has become. The air that is pumped into our lives every single second. But it is an entity of many minds and voices.  A hydra. Or even simpler, swamp scum.  We  now know about too much and now we know about too little and there is no fix either way.  Don’t blame Mark Zuckerberg.  Do not shoot the messenger.  He did not invent us.  He did not program us;  we each relied on our basest and best instincts – as we saw fit – and stirred the pot.  If anything Mark is Patient Zero. His simple idea created the plague that has engulfed the planet. But remember this.  Just like Marie Curie for example, he did not create immunity for himself and I rather think he must realize it by now.  As much as I reject the idea of “changing the course of history” his  creation has raised questions for me.

Consider an old saw, but absolutely true today.  Once the genie is out of the bottle – he truly cannot be put back.

 

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