[P2P-F] death by social media

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Sun Feb 22 18:02:21 CET 2015

(all at

*Counterpunch)*(The excellent singer David Rovics laments: "In the 1990s,
with the development of the internet – websites, email lists – there was an
explosion of communication that made the underground press of the 60’s pale
in comparison.  Most people in places like the US virtually stopped using
phones (to actually talk on), from my experience.  Many people who never
wrote letters or much of anything else started using computers and writing
emails to each other, and even to multiple people at once. Those very few
of us who were in the habit in the pre-internet era of sending around
regular newsletters featuring our writing, our thoughts, our list of
upcoming gigs, products or services we were trying to sell, etc., were
thrilled with the advent of email, and the ability to send our newsletters
out so easily, without spending a fortune on postage stamps, without
spending so much time stuffing envelopes.  For a brief period of time, we
had access to the same audience, the same readers we had before, but now we
could communicate with them virtually for free. This, for many of us, was
the internet’s golden age – 1995-2005 or so.")

Death by Ten Billion Status Updates
How Facebook Killed the Internet

Facebook killed the internet, and I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of
people didn’t even notice.

I can see the look on many of your faces, and hear the thoughts.  *Someone’s
complaining about Facebook again.  Yes, I know it’s a massive corporation,
but it’s the platform we’re all using.  It’s like complaining about
Starbucks.  After all the independent cafes have been driven out of town
and you’re an espresso addict, what to do?  What do you mean “killed”?
What was killed?*

I’ll try to explain.  I’ll start by saying that I don’t know what the
solution is.  But I think any solution has to start with solidly
identifying the nature of the problem.

First of all, Facebook killed the internet, but if it wasn’t Facebook, it
would have been something else.  The evolution of social media was probably
as inevitable as the development of cell phones that could surf the
internet.  It was the natural direction for the internet to go in.

Which is why it’s so especially disturbing.  Because the solution is not
Znet or Ello.  The solution is not better social media, better algorithms,
or social media run by a nonprofit rather than a multibillion-dollar
corporation.  Just as the solution to the social alienation caused by
everybody having their own private car is not more electric vehicles.  Just
as the solution to the social alienation caused by everyone having their
own cell phone to stare at is not a collectively-owned phone company.

Many people from the grassroots to the elites are thrilled about the social
media phenomenon.  Surely some of the few people who will read this are
among them.  We throw around phrases like “Facebook revolution” and we hail
these new internet platforms that are bringing people together all over the
world.  And I’m not suggesting they don’t have their various bright sides.
Nor am I suggesting you should stop using social media platforms, including
Facebook.  That would be like telling someone in Texas they should bike to
work, when the whole infrastructure of every city in the state is built for
sports utility vehicles.

But we should understand the nature of what is happening to us.

More information about the P2P-Foundation mailing list