August 2nd, 2010 15:26 EST
Facebook Makes Diplomacy and Politics Look Like 20th Century Artifacts
Historians marvel at the rapidity of:
* Alexander the Great`s conquests * Islamic expansion * Genghis Khan`s Golden Horde * the rise of the United States as a world power * Nazi blitzkriegs
But those phenomena proceeded at a snail`s pace compared to social networking in cyberspace. They were clunky and messy by comparison. And nothing suggests a slowdown of this phenomenon. In fact, every week new software appears. What the world`s stuffed-shirt diplomats have not been able to accomplish "true engagement "is now being accomplished second by second. The people of the world are talking to each other "around their cumbersome leaders. Their leaders are blathering, but the people are talking.
And even more remarkably, the dialogue on Facebook and MySpace and the other networking programs is stunningly free of the pomposity and guile that make most diplomacy odious and perhaps antique. True, people are selling themselves and their wares by social networking, but they are also making each other aware of their common humanity. They are talking to each other free of the strictures of middle men, the media, governments and corporations (which are the real governments of the 21st Century).
The upbeat exuberance of the cybernetic social network is palpable. And it stands is stark and disquieting contrast to the so-called news, which is nasty and mean-spirited. A spell with Facebook usually leaves one content, perhaps amused. A half hour of cable news is like a cold bath in toxic waste. And this disparity raises questions:
* Why when the ordinary masses communicate are they not pursuing the ugly agendas their leaders pursue in the news?
* Why is the tone of this incredible and burgeoning medium so markedly more constructive and optimistic than what the mainstream media force-feed us?
* What`s up with this disconnect? Why do the traditional media sound so different, so downbeat, so disturbing compared to this vast, exciting new medium? Is it because they are controlled by interests pursuing an agenda that is contrary to the public`s interests? Most people know instinctively that if they dealt with each other the way their politicians deal with each other the social order would collapse. How then can it be said we have representative government? What does it represent if not us?
It is impossible for a thoughtful person to miss the difference in the tone of social networks and those in public life. The social networkers are looking for connections, for a quality of life that perhaps is missing elsewhere, while our leaders day after day are trying to get over on each other and on us. How long can this startling difference continue without galvanizing into some kind of worldwide consensus that corporate government does not reflect the will or desire of the people? How long can we keep on pretending that the social networks are tools rather than a revolution in our perception of our relationship to each other and to our governments?
Thomas Jefferson famously worried that corporations might not subscribe to government by the people, for the people and of the people. He was right to worry. He hoped a free press, the Fourth Estate, might operate as a counterbalance to corporate dominance. It was a forlorn hope. The Fourth Estate has become the creature of the corporations, a fact that worried us less when there was such a thing as family ownership, local ownership, but should worry us much more than it does now that mega-corporations have pocketed the Fourth Estate.
If Facebook is the face of the people the world over, what exactly does Big Media represent? Can it be said to represent the people when it differs so markedly in tone and demeanor from the way the masses have chosen to communication in cyberspace? Is it merely a case of professional vetting of the news that accounts for this difference or is it rather that Big Media is pursuing an agenda that is not in the interests of the rest of us?
CNN, for example, daily takes time to honor fallen soldiers. Who could possibly object to this homage to American valor? It is that rhetorical question that underlies CNN`s action. But most Americans want out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and one could respectfully ask why CNN does not take time each day to honor that viewpoint. I think the answer is that CNN is owned by a subsidiary of War Inc., the great American war machine that grinds on in spite of what the public thinks. Of course these fallen soldiers should be honored, but they have fallen to defend our rights, one of which is dissent.
There are many heroes. Some of them are living in cardboard boxes. Some of them ate dying lonely deaths in nursing homes. Some of them are dissenting in the streets and on the web. Some of them are working tirelessly for the poor and sick. Not all of them are in uniform. But taking time to mark their passage in the world is not in the interests of War Inc. and the bankers who profit from it.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com