The World Needs Far Less Facebook, Not More by a Different Name
Changing a logo doesn't change a toxic idea
Last week, someone offered to pay me $500 to write a short Medium article about their new NFT startup.
That’s a lot of money for someone with a brand new baby at home.
The company “sends” its “community” on a different digital “travel experience” each month.
One month everyone will digitally attend Coachella or Burning Man, another time they’ll go to the Superbowl or the NBA Finals.
It’s a really cool idea, until you think about it for like four seconds.
I wrote back:
“Dear [so and so]. Sorry to say I can’t support your project. It’s anti-human. If you’ve read much of my blog, you know that I’m deeply pro-human. Biological. Offline. Together. [Your company] separates people. It keeps them from going on real adventures to real places to spend real offline time with real people. My post-college volunteering trip through Central America changed my life and made me friends for life. [Your company] is the opposite of what human beings need. I hope you’ll seriously re-think this business.”
It was the easiest $500 I’ve never made.
New name, same game
Facebook is changing its name to Meta Platforms Inc.
It’s stupid, I know.
But then again, so is wasting 2.39 years of waking life on Facebook, so can the average user really judge them?
As most of my long-time readers know, I’m not a fan of the highly-addictive, extremist-breeding, time-devouring, money-gobbling, democracy-smashing, depression-inducing, hatred-boosting sludgefest that is Facebook.
Now, in an attempt to distance Facebook from its endless crimes and scandals, kid billionaire/Sith lord Mark Zuckerberg has decided that burning 76,450,684 years of human life each year in two dimensions is no longer enough.
No, in his profit-focused mind, it’s time for Facebook’s 1.908 billion daily active users to enter the Metaverse — in other words, he wants to further separate us from each other, but this time, in virtual reality.
In order to create “connection.”
In order words, the lie that built Facebook is about to go exponential.
The trillion-dollar vision
Facebook is built on an extremely simple and profound promise:
That if we will all spend more time alone staring at a screen, freely hand over our identities, and let an algorithm change our beliefs and behaviors, Facebook will deliver connection.
And guess what?
Old classmates who’d lost touch (for a reason) suddenly knew what each other were up to.
Grandparents got to see their faraway grandbabies.
Former colleagues got to argue about who stole the election from whom.
During lockdown, everyone got to see how bored everyone else was.
So yes, we connected.
But there’s a fundamental problem with Facebook’s unique selling proposition:
There’s a massive difference between connection and communion.
Facebook promises connection and hopes we won’t realize that connection isn’t actually what we want, need, or crave.
In the same way that Americans conflate autonomy with freedom, Mark Zuckerberg conflates connection with communion.
Humans don’t “connect.”
We aren’t USB keys.
We aren’t wifi signals.
We aren’t prongs that plug into outlets.
I don’t know anyone who’s logged off of Facebook feeling euphoric, content, or fulfilled.
Statistically speaking, most users log off either more depressed or more enraged.
Facebook is like McDonald’s — it’s temporarily satisfying because of the saccharine sugar hit, but it ultimately leaves you hungry within hours, craving another hit.
Communion, on the other hand, is different.
When people meet face to face, magic happens.
We smell each other.
Hear each other without compression.
We breathe in each other’s pheromones.
Our breathing syncs.
Our heart rates rise.
Our faces flush.
We really communicate.
We can sense nuance, subtlety, jest.
We subconsciously see each other’s pupils dilate.
We touch each other, hold each other, feel each other.
We know and are known.
And not one advertiser, including Russian trolls and conspiracy theorists, can pay to plant 36 thoughts in our heads.
More of the same
“The metaverse is the next frontier… From now on, we’re going to be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first.” — Mark Zuckerberg
The metaverse is wildly overrated.
It’s basically highly-addictive social media in virtual or augmented reality.
That’s right — either we’ll spend our hours inside Facebook’s digital world, or Facebook will invade our physical world.
Either way, its algorithms will continue to get to know us better than our family, bombarding us with ads whether we’re aware of them or not, manipulating our behavior for the betterment not of ourselves and our communities, but for the bottom-line profits of elite shareholders on the hunt for more and more Zuckerbucks.
You thought Facebook wars on comment walls were bad?
Now people will be able to see and scream at each other in digital town halls.
The metaverse is simply yet another attempt at trying to create heaven on earth without God. It’s the kingdom without the king, the cathedral without the cornerstone. It just won’t work. Because even a shiny new metaverse will be filled with sinful human beings. In the end, it will be just more of the same.
We are homo sapiens, not homo digitalis.
We are proudly biological, offline, and physical. God created us this way.
We were made to be together, in the flesh.
Sure, God made us incredibly resilient, but we weren’t made to sit sedentarily and stare at a small square of light all day.
And we definitely weren’t designed to strap a screen to our face and “live” inside an ad-filled world created by a sociopath.
Christians don’t need to resist the metaverse so much as they just need to focus on our work as culture-makers in the real world. Undoubtedly, a few tech-obsessed pastors will attempt to create VR churches, but these will almost certainly fail in time. People in VR are looking to be entertained, not discipled. It would be like trying to sell haircuts in a carwash. I’m not saying we can’t and shouldn’t use technology as a way to bridge into culture and evangelize, but there comes a point when these connections need to be pulled offline into the real world in order to truly become healthy relationships.
Christian parents especially need to wake up and learn to parent and disciple their children. It’s an unbelievable mistake to give anyone under eighteen a smartphone, and soon children will be pushing for a VR headset so they can “live” where all their friends do.
Parents, guardians, and church leaders need to do a far better job at giving kids and teens places that help them feel they are home — with their faith family and in the presence of God.
To be clear, we don’t need to try and compete with the metaverse; Christianity isn’t a “pitch,” and literally nothing competes with digital superstimuli except perhaps narcotics.
We’re not offering the world a buzz — we’re living out the life that is truly life.
And true life isn’t the metaverse.
Let’s never forget that Facebook (and VR, and AR and the metaverse) were created not to improve human life and achieve widest-spread wellbeing.
It was and will always be about shareholder profits.
Leaked documents have proved conclusively that Mark Zuckerberg does not care about the wellbeing of our global family.
Like all of us, Mark cares above all for himself.
So please lift him up in your prayers. People say that power corrupts, but I disagree. Power magnifies what’s already there. Mark Zuckerberg is just as broken and sinful as the rest of us, he’s just in a bigger spotlight, and he’s operating with more tools and weapons that impact billions of lives.
As trust in Facebook Inc. continues to sink lower and lower, the Chief Exploitation Officer thinks he can rebrand as Meta Platforms Inc. and double down on a thesis that never worked in the first place.
Facebook is built on the false promise that spending more time alone on screens will somehow deliver the communion we want, need, and crave.
It hasn’t, won’t, can’t, and never will.