I find myself on El-Face far too often for my own liking. A large of the dislike is part of my own deeply seated character flaws, wherein liking something that everyone else likes is anathema; but some of the dislike is a result of El-Face’s antics. Whether they’re selling my data to the government, or using it to foist terrible games on me, it always seems a heavy handed “aren’t we all having fun, guys?” manic-ness that guides them and it’s irritating.
Most recently they decided to commemorate their 10th anniversary by having a naked display of their knowledge of our lives. That is to say, they made a slide show “movie” of significant (most liked) activities and images, all set to a tune not out of place in an iPhone commercial. I guess the gesture was lovely and all, but it felt oddly forced (as in, forced to have an algorithm aggregate my images and activities without my prior consent), as well as being, in the end, quite generic. Everyone had the same song, the same format. “Well what do you expect, you gloomy Gus?” you might ask, “Did you expect them to get Scorsese to direct a short film for you?” To which I answer, no, I expected them to do nothing. I expected them to have their own little film of their own employees and founder and campus and whatnot, and to leave me out of it. I’m only here for the baby pictures and the amateur political commentary, not to be roped into the world’s least fun office party.
I also realize that I could stop using El-Face at any time, but I think you know the answer to that. It’s currently how stay connected to the more far flung parts of my social universe. Thankfully, now that the blog is back up, it need no longer serve as the place where make myself heard and known.
I was commuting down to work with my colleague/boss the other morning listening to the news of the State of the Union address when I was suddenly struck by the fact that we might be living at a historical inflection point. To be fair, I frequently wonder about that sort of thing, and frankly it’s a silly question. After all, you can rarely tell what history will say about a moment until you look back at it. But I digress …
In the State of the Union, the President had mentioned the need to address economic inequality in the country. It got me thinking about the last hundred years in the US, and what had happened. Were we fooling ourselves into thinking that the “American Dream” is something achievable for the majority of the population? What had made it achievable in the past? It seems to me that in a globalized world economy we have seen the outsourcing of manufacturing (the backbone of the post-war economic boom, and the path many Americans took to the middle class) which, among many other factors, has made the path to prosperity much less accessible. It’s also made the economy as a whole shakier in my opinion. With this in mind, I was surprised to see this article in the NYTimes when I arrived at work.
The article discusses the book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which posits the inevitability of inequality as a result of free market capitalism. In essence, inequality is always going to happen, unless government action (in the form of market regulation, or tax structures, or what have you) put the brakes on it. This is less and less likely due to the fetishism of deregulation and small government, as well as the global nature of capital now. The fact that we even had a period where this was not inevitable was due to the historical and economic shocks of the World Wars and the Great Depression. That behind us, we’re living in a country much more similar to how it was in the 19th century than what it was in the 20th. Do we have the stomach to change it, and if so, are we even able to make those changes? Time will tell but I am not confident. We may be seeing a future with much more unrest like the less-funny-than-it-sounds Google Bus Riots of a few weeks ago.
But who knows? I could be wrong.
It’s been a long while since I’ve put my thoughts down in a coherent way in a non-professional capacity. With this new platform adding to the complication, I definitely have the sense of a man lost inside a large building where he used to work. I’m wandering from room to room, trying to remember what I used to do there, or looking for things that I left in that room several years. It’s a little disconcerting …
Having said that, it’s good to be back. I have been feeling constrained by the currently popular methods of opinionating. Your Twitters and Facebooks just don’t give me the room for long winded bloviating that I had grown accustomed to. The twee layouts; the juxtaposition of profound statements on inequality with cute cat videos; it just gets you down, you know? I won’t deny that my own instinct to swim against the stream and rage against current fashion is a significant driver here (a friend once remarked that as a story structure my life was best described as “man against his environment”), but I’d also like to retain my individuality. I’d also like to keep my data from being as easily mined as it has been – but I’ll talk more about that later.
Anyway if I seem like an absentminded museum curator from a 50’s film, please excuse me. I will be getting more dynamic as I find my feet and voice again.
Or a return anyway… sorry it’s taken so long to get back to this. I’ve changed blog software and so my archives are stored on my hard drive at home. So it may be awhile before they’re available again. In the meantime, I’ll be blogging about the new things in my life so stay tuned.