Mark Zuckerberg made a ludicrously hilarious claim last week; that Facebook is going to take the place of the church. As I mentioned here, this is nothing more than a mildly clever piece of spin which is about as irrelevant as the church. Facebook, just like the church is a form of technology, a technology of self, it’s purpose to conform its users into an image of themselves — the sacred icon of being a better version of you than you currently are or a version of the idea that you have of someone else ('idea' being the important word). If there was a sacred counter text to the gospel according to Facebook it would read: ‘I am not who I think you are.’
The technology (of self) of Facebook, is particularly dangerous because it does something very clever — it reverses centuries; millennia, of economic theory. The product was something that you once purchased, but now you are the product. This is the slight of hand — Facebook, Google and the rest, are not products, they turn you into the product and market your data to the highest bidder. This is a powerful thing. It is powerful because it trades not just in a kind of surface level power but in a bio-power — it goes deep, right down into the neurological flows and chemical reactions that change how you think, feel, act; or the habits you form, how you spend your time, your mood…..
Yet, the church isn't much different. It’s been trying to do the same thing for centuries and is still at it today; mainly trying to conform the users of its social network into an image, the image of an invisible idea carefully guarded by the sacred, decoders of the biblical algorithms and behavioural codes — mostly the thought image of conservative, right-leaning, middle aged men, obsessed with an idea that I like to call; the tyranny of ‘normal’. And the same bio-power is at work, gendering bodies; normalising behaviour; bounding belief systems. If there was a sacred counter text to the gospel according to the church it would read read: ‘I am not who I think you think I should be.’