Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 14, 2018

Face-to-Face to Facebook; My 10 Films: Why?

If someone asks you a question, someone is listening to the answer.

If you do something in public — by definition — someone is watching.

I’m one of about 2.7 billion people on Facebook.

Facebook Brad Nixon 2992 680

We do a lot of stuff on Facebook. We make funny or serious comments, post pictures of ourselves and things we see, describe places we go. Businesses enormous and tiny do business there and cajole us to like them. I make this blog accessible via my Facebook feed.

It’s increasingly obvious how public all those things are. Someone — many someones — see, read, record and compile vast amounts of data that includes every word you’ve ever typed, every item you’ve liked or shared, every connection you’ve made.

What are they doing with all this stuff?

As John Herrman wrote in the New York Times on Dec. 12 2018,

“At the time you might have felt you were interacting with an old friend, or your aunt — which you were — but you were also feeding data into a gigantic piece of machinery.”

Free and Fair Elections

Consider the 2016 U.S. general election and its aftermath. People with whom I’m “Facebook friends” posted some of the most egregiously nasty, ignorant and foolish crap imaginable about the candidates and issues. If their mothers had seen them promote such vile ideas and images, they’d have been sent to their rooms on bread and water with no access to comic books or TV for a year, minimum. I was appalled to see ostensibly intelligent people forwarding propaganda that was clearly intentional distortion of truth,  patently created to promote misinformation and discord.

Facebook is not only a free-for-all featuring obvious bullies and creeps, but also generates petaflops’ worth of data used by shadowy, deceptive players who operate entirely out of view, shielded by Facebook itself.

It’s reasonable to consider the potential downside of participating in even the most innocuous-seeming Facebook activities.

Fun and Games Online with Friends

There are thousands — perhaps millions — of seemingly innocent participation exercises floating around Facebook: questions, contests and quizzes. “Give a like if you recognize this ordinary household item/toy from the 1960s.” “How many of these once-famous celebrities do you recognize?”

Who wants to know that? Someone. Why?

Saying you liked the 1950s Mattel “Fanner 50” cap gun doesn’t amount to much. But once you click on a couple hundred such bagatelles, someone develops a profile of where you grew up or live, how old you are, your cultural framework, level of education, income, political leanings — in addition to knowing scores or hundreds of your siblings, cousins, coworkers and friends.

My Turn to Play 10 Favorite Films

I’ve been invited to take part in an enjoyable little meme making the rounds on Facebook. Several friends and family members have contributed: Once a day for 10 days, post a movie that had a significant impact on you. The trick is, you’re to post only a scene from the film: not the title, and not a word of description or comment.

Some participants go for the obvious: Dorothy and her ruby slippers or Slim Pickens riding that big atomic bomb at the end of “Dr. Strangelove.” Others post a more obscure scene that might be difficult to recognize as one from an extremely popular movie.

It’s fun to find out what films people like, or simply to guess what movie that picture’s from. Perfectly innocent fun.

Who would be interested in knowing that seeing Yukio Mishima’s harrowing “Yûkoku” was a life-changing experience for me — not necessarily a positive one? What’ll they do with the information that I vividly remember watching a film featuring ritual sepukku written by and starring  a Nobel nominee?

What if my choices included “Triumph of the Will,” “Pink Flamingoes” and Andy Warhol’s “Empire?” If I listed all those, and a few more offbeat ones from my repertoire I’d appear at the high end of someone’s Whack-O Meter.

Someone wants to know. Maybe they’re building a relational database matching ALL the people on Facebook who like certain films cross-referenced by age, income, location, education, all their relationships, etc. etc. What can they do with that information? We simply don’t know. It’s worrisome.

For the reasons listed above, I don’t click on many of those Facebook “Give a like if you …” exercises.

But I’ll post 10 films that had an impact on me. None of the ones I listed above will be among them, by the way. Even I couldn’t make it through eight hours and five minutes of a single shot of the Empire State Building. I gave up when I realized King Kong and Fay Wray weren’t going to show up. Yeah, I get it, Andy: that’s the point, but I didn’t need that long to catch on.

I just have to wonder.

Don’t forget to give this post a “like.” I won’t tell anyone. Add a comment about how you view our wheels-within-wheels universe of social media. You’re here, might as well join in and be sociable.

© Brad Nixon 2018. Quotation © New York Times and John Herrman, Dec. 12, 2018.

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Responses

  1. Oh dang! I stopped doing the “only 6 of 100 Americans can name all these state rock, but did the movie thing recently, and a book thing.

    What the heck DO they do with that info? I look up something on Amazin’ and get showered with ads on FB, so should know someone’s always watching.

    Thanks, Brad.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I look forward to listing my films, as I enjoyed seeing yours revealed. I am getting more and more perturbed about the site. I am NOT doing the book thing, not for fear of privacy risk; I’d just never be able to decide.

      Like

  2. Add in the tracking done by various smart phone apps, and there’s nowhere to hide. This recent article was revelatory.

    I was a member of Facebook for six weeks, after being told by friends that I ‘had’ to be on the site. I never posted, never developed a bio, and never ‘liked’ a thing. After six weeks, I deleted my account, and never looked back. I wasn’t so concerned about privacy then, but I recognized what would become (for me) a time sink. Now, every new article about the shenanigans there makes me happier with my decision.

    I did use Twitter to publicize my posts, but as that site devolved, I made the decision to delete my tweets and use the site strictly for informational purposes. Now, I follow the National Weather Service, our local police and city government, and a few other sites like that. It works for me.

    As for being tracked? It’s harder to track someone who’s still using a Samsung flip phone, and who leaves it on her desk half the time. I used to characterize myself as a dinosaur, but I’ve decided I’m a tech version of the Cheshire Cat, slowly disappearing until there won’t be anything left but a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • (smile)

      Like

    • P.S. Dinosaurs evolved into birds.

      Like

      • Ah, yes. The birds. Like this one.

        If I were on Facebook, I’d play the game. Do you know the film?

        Like

      • News to me. I’m culturally deprived.

        Like

      • Werner Herzog’s the filmmaker — it’s the final scene from Stroszek . It cracked me up when I found it, quite by accident, but I’ve never forgotten the chicken. The brief online synopsis: In Berlin, an alcoholic man, recently released from prison, joins his elderly friend and a prostitute in a determined dream to leave Germany and seek a better life in Wisconsin.

        Like

      • That’s especially interesting, because in the last week I read a long article about an episode in the Coen Brothers’ new western. It includes a trained chicken that appears to do math. The writer investigated the history of math-capable trained animals, and Herzog — who apparently is fascinated by chickens — was one of the experts interviewed. Funny. And, no, chickens probably can’t do math.

        Like

  3. Your blog is the sole place where I stick my nose through the door into the public arena of social media. I value my privacy, and I don’t get any joy from total strangers commenting on my public utterances (however brilliant my thoughts may be 😂). Sorry, people.

    Like

    • Glad this is your exception, then. We try to keep things civil, and do our best to discourage automated chatbots from other planets.

      Like

  4. I left Facebook earlier in the year, this being just one of the reasons – though not the only one. But FB’s not the only online organisation that tracks people. If you ever get a chance, have a look at WordPress.com’s ‘partners’ via their privacy and cookie pages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, precisely so. Thanks for pointing it out. A lot to be wary of.

      Liked by 1 person


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