Imagine for a second trying to assemble a model airplane, complete with instructions, but without the box on which the final image is displayed. If you’re like me, the absence of a clear picture of the end result would create not only a time-consuming and wasteful process, the final product would likely be at odds with what was originally planned. Now imagine being Mark Zuckerberg sitting in a Harvard dorm room in early 2004 preparing to launch Facebook with four of his college buddies. Now fast forward 16 years and consider the difference between what Zuckerberg and his pals launched then to what exists today. The original concept? A platform that would enable college students on select college campuses to openly communicate. Today’s Facebook? The devil’s playground.
It’s become clear to me over the years that any worthy idea must have a heavy dose of intuition embedded in it for the best kind of success to be achieved. Success, as we should know by now, isn’t necessarily measured by money. Sure, some of it is but there are highly successful companies and people not loaded to the brim with money made from their respective ventures. We hear often about the billionaires in this world but who could be wealthier than say a loving mom, an adored schoolteacher, a social worker or humble servants in our own city? You get the idea. Success, as the good book tells us, is measured by how we treat others, our integrity, our service to others and how we lead and love our family. Conversely, God tells us rather clearly how destructive the love of money can be and that making it priority one can ruin a person’s life. Big companies generating enough profit for those owning the company to buy anything they want may be nice, but it is not synonymous with wealth. Matter of fact, some people are so poor all they have is money.
Whether we like it or not, Facebook has become a go-to staple of life for people across the world. Once a staple that served a valuable purpose, Facebook now finds itself in the middle of what seems like perpetual legal storms not to mention the debilitating impact it has perpetrated on modern-day society. Much like a dangerous drug, Facebook has become an addiction for many, an addiction powerful enough to keep otherwise ordinary, happy people handcuffed to a platform of vicious anger, contempt and hatred. Included in such sewage is Facebook’s continual efforts to censure or even omit posts and comments it doesn’t like. As CEO and majority stockholder, Zuckerberg can do as he pleases but, as he’s learning, actions like his have lasting consequences. A recent advertising boycott, compelled by Zuckerberg’s decisions, has now reached approximately 300 advertisers and nearly $60 billion. Zuckerberg himself has lost in excess of $7 billion. More consequential is that Facebook now suffers the stigma assigned to it by advertisers, civil rights groups and users alike described as “Stop Hate for Profit” – a stigma no company wants or can survive over time … even Facebook. On one hand, Facebook is, or could be, a once-in-a-lifetime success story. On the other, it is an example of how enormous wealth can fool a man so deeply that he believes in his own invincibility.
None of us has to be a rocket scientist to know the world is in trouble. In our own country we have, in some ways, become detached from reality. What were once sacred aspects of society are now tossed around like rag dolls coming apart at the seams. Facebook, along with any kind of indecency one can think of, is an ever-present force of the very characteristics that fuel the engine of a society’s precipitous demise. Whether gore, pornography, incivility or unabated immorality, all of it is but a click away. More and more people in my own world are increasingly desperate to rid themselves of any temptation that compels them to make a trip into those horror chambers … especially Facebook. While Facebook does prohibit some of the filth, it remains the dominant source in our culture for enticing folks into a pit from which they struggle to escape. Problem is, escaping is not easy. I can’t explain it, but there’s something about either participating in or at least observing the constant verbal no-holds-barred battles and mesmerizing train wrecks populating nearly every page of the digital monster.
Unless enough users decide that the personal impact is simply too great to continue playing in such a nasty sandbox, the nastiness and its impact will only get worse. People will hate more, fight more, live in conflict more and seek to dish as much contempt on others as they possibly can. It’s both that simple and that complex. Life’s joys are being overwhelmed by a creation originally meant for good but that has done more societal damage than Zuckerberg and his pals could have ever imagined. Truth is, anything like Facebook that diminishes the best of life’s experiences must be captured, contained and eventually purged. What I find interesting, maybe even amazing, is that every person I know who has chosen to remove Facebook, and sites like it, from their lives now gets more out of living than ever before. They are free of the fetters that allow hate rather than joy to permeate life. They seek to find the good in others rather than joining the chorus of those who seek only to disparage and defame. They now can experience freedom rather than being held hostage to a repository of so much evil and they have discovered that the devil’s playground is no playground at all. Instead, they’ve learned that it’s a place of unrest, hatefulness and grief.
And, above all, they know that none of us need to dwell there.
Scott Brooks is the Publisher of the Waxahachie Sun and may be reached at 972-316-7712 or email@example.com.