Zadie Smith on Facebook

I recommend Zadie Smith’s piece–titled Generation Why?–in the 25-November New York Review of Books.  It explores Facebook–which she characterizes as “the wild west of the Internet tamed to fit the suburban fantasies of a suburban soul”–, the movie The Social Network, and Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto.  It’s a self-described 1.0 person’s take on what Facebook is and what it is not, suffused with Smith’s humor and soul, and a joy to read, studded with succinct dead-on observations like this:  “To [Internet] advertisers [looking at Facebook], we are our capacity to buy, attached to a few personal, irrelevant photos.”  Facebook reduces relationships to the sum total of a limited range of database entries defined by “the suburban fantasies of a suburban soul.”

The last defense of every Facebook addict is: but it helps me keep in contact with people who are far away! Well, e-mail and Skype do that, too, and they have the added advantage of not forcing you to interface with the mind of Mark Zuckerberg.

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