28 April 2011

Direct Democracy At Its Finest?

A Facebook screenshot. I know, it's tiny; here are some of the groups:
"Soldiers are not heroes."
"Remove the group 'Soldiers are not heroes.'"
"Petition to remove "Petition to remove 'Soldiers are not heroes' " group. "
And also, in ALL CAPS,
"Anyone in the "Soldiers are not Heroes" group are ignorant [unprintables]."
"'Soldiers are not heroe's' is Dis-Respective"
I could make a cheap point about grammar and spelling, but what really intrigues me here is the profusion.

How did Facebook end up with five different groups declaring that soldiers are not heroes, in the first place? Was it a single person who kept creating different groups in some kind of confusion about what had or had not already been accomplished? Friends? Strangers, all coincidentally up to the same thing?

And then, four different groups petitioning for the removal of the original groups... one very offended party? Four different ones? And the person asking for the removal of the groups asking for the removal of the other groups.... one of the original groups' creators? Someone else entirely?

If you're reading this, you may object that Facebook has no connection to "the real world." But it turns out to be one tool for communicating with other people, alongside email and flyers in your mailbox and the good old telephone, all of which have superseded smoke signals and the Pony Express.

It's messy and it's often mundane, but it's also an interesting laboratory for the dissemination and exchange of ideas. There are a lot of people out there on Facebook muttering to themselves, and a few standing on soap-boxes and hollering, and somehow in the cacophony, people manage to hear and be heard.