In nine short years, Facebook has fundamentally reconfigured the way we communicate as mammals. It is the world's largest social network, and those cascading images of cats and babies have proven to be more necessary to the survival of our species than the sweet lick of oxygen. I cannot imagine my life without Facebook—it created the beneficient addiction of 24/7 conversations and information flow that we apparently all craved as a species. We check Facebook before we "go ni-nites" and we "cruise the feeds" first thing in the morning when we "wakey wakey eggs and bakey." Facebook encourages us to show the world our own unique brands. It offers us an opportunity to share our Moments of Wonder with the world, and it allows us to build communities regardless of race and age and gender.
What's more, our News Feeds have become our personalized digital news sources. Rather than some stodgy old newspaper telling us what people are doing in realms so far away that they may as well be part of our imaginations, we learn what our friends are up to, check out pictures they recently posted, look at product recommendations and social justice petitions they shared, and see what tunes they are currently rocking out to. In my new self-published e-book, Zuck You: How Facebook Is Unleashing the Better You Inside You, I explore the de-newsification of news and the renewification of the self as the center of your own universe—something I refer to as the "youniverse."
As an example of what I mean about the unnecessary nature of an old-fashioned "newspaper," let's look at this week's Stranger. We have a series of articles about gay marriage, which I guess is legal in Washington State now, somehow. This is fine, but it's all kind of... impersonal, don't you think? In the new youniverse, if you're a gay person looking to get married, you can just dunk a query in your Timeline: "Yo, peeps! Steve finally wants to tie the old knot with yours truly. Gulp! Anyone have any tips?" The information you'd get from your friends would be more succinct and more attuned to your personal brand than anything you'd learn from inanimate newsprint.
And how do the bullies known back in the Bad Old Days as "editors" decide what is "newsworthy" enough for our attention? Something about a school levy (sorry, Stranger, but I'm a proud, childless quirkyalone), ANNA MINARD's self-reflexive essay about neighborhood blogs (blogs are just as dead as newspapers in the youniverse), and PAUL CONSTANT writing about a book about Muhammad. God, the idea of critics as gatekeepers is as antiquated as dot-matrix printers; I'll discover books from my friends, not some guy I've never met before, thankyouverymuch. Same thing with DAVE SEGAL's way-too-long-read about Rose Windows and JEN GRAVES trying to convince me to watch some boring docu about Nazis and classical music. No thanks, Stranger. When it comes to my youniverse, it turns out that Zuck Knows Best, which is coincidentally the title of my next self-published e-book. Be sure to throw a "like" my way if you agree!