Saturday, March 19, 2016

‘Smog Jog’ Through Beijing, Zuckerberg is Ignored

The obsession with digital media applications is everywhere - well almost! Almost every moment of our contemporary lives is commonly consumed in and around screen space. Panic ensues, as the real, non-digital world disappears into the virtual. Hand wringing ensues, as images of civilization in decline appear. Unless you are one of several billion people who could not care less!

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would probably be delighted to have the entire planet connect to his Social Media Application. One should also assume that the US Government shares this enthusiasm for all things socially-defined by a young American. Thankfully, this is not the case.  

As this image from The New York Times of  "The Zuck" and his colleagues shows, Mao-Tse-Tung is more interesting than a young American billionaire!  

The New York Times did NOT draw attention to the crowds of Chinese presumably listening to stories about the Great Helmsman as they visited Tiananmin Square, their backs tuned to The Zuck. The Times article, sadly pre-occupied with all things American, was about the implicit stupidity of Zuckerberg who went for a run in Beijing on a day when the air pollution was dangerously high.
This is a kind of metaphor for the digital revolution. Power on 'bro, and insist on doing whatever you were doing, regardless of the risk to personal health, the social impact on people regardless of their circumstances or the alignment of national public interests with private preoccupations.

To reiterate this point of criticism, all things digital are overpowering non-virtual everyday life in the west with a view to universalize the digital.

Social Media has produced then reproduced the one per cent in their celebrity bearing and new-found wealth. These new Gilded gurus are the cause of all sorts of envy. They are apparently brilliant and so on.

I can hardly bother trying to find the words to describe their unchallenged dominance at the pointy end of the triangle of wealth and power at which they reside, not to mention the volumes of uncritical journalism, Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising circulating around them. Nor can I expend much energy on the thousands of wanna-be innovators, the Business School courses operating within a non-humanistic, uncritical perspective, dedicated to making more profit, wealth and whatever else the dream is made of this time around.  

On the other hand, thank you to Google for contributing $500,000 to Patrice Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, to "further develop a program to help Californian residents monitor and respond to acts of police violence," as Jelani Cobb reported in the March 14, 2016 edition of The New Yorker magazine. See The Matter of Black Lives 

Imagine if Google gave all its money to social programs and economic development?  

If The Zuck's application and business focused on fighting racism, poverty and social despair, the Chinese visiting Tianamin Square may have noticed him ... For now he is irrelevant to them.

It is worth remembering the great achievements of Chinese society, following Mao Tse Tung's successful overthrow of feudal interests and foreign powers in 1949.

I hope that the Chinese continue their development in such a way that The Zuck and those like him who spend time focused on Social Media, will remain or become irrelevant to the Chinese. This is unlikely, but worth the effort, in order to build a multipolar, differentiated planet.  And hopefully find the place where smog is not an issue!