Facebook Activism

So, I’ve been struggling a little bit with this thing that has happened on Facebook, where it seems that more and more of the content posted by my friends and family and acquaintances is of a political and/or grassroots activism nature. And the reason I’m struggling is because, I’ll admit it, that’s not what I’m looking for when I go to Facebook.

It’s hard to admit this, because I’m a firm believer in being well-informed and civically active , and yet there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to be bothered by that stuff on Facebook. I want to see what everyone is up to much more than what they’re pissed off or scared about. I spend enough of my time each day checking in on the goings on in the world via a wide variety of sources, and when my thoughts turn toward my friends and family I mostly want to see photos of their vacations, BBQs, or their adorable pets doing adorable things.

And yet, Facebook and Twitter activism is now credited with having been a major factor in popular uprisings, as far back as the 2009 so-called Twitter Revolution in Moldova, and as recently as the movement that led to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt this past February. Closer to home, you might recall my having written about a relatively much smaller little revolution that happened right here in Bellingham in early March, wherein a Facebook Page, created in opposition to plans by a local coffee shop chain to erect a billboard passing as a sculpture in front of their new store in the arts district downtown, led to the withdraw of those plans.

And what about the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster in Japan this past month? It was touching to see the outpouring of concern, sympathy, and grief in my news feed everyday, as I tried to make sense of the senselessness of it all.

How can I complain about that?

Hmmmmmmmmm…

I’ve got it!

An Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Yo Mark!

I’ve got a great idea for an enhancement to the Facebook experience, one that will both capitalize on the popularity of Facebook Activism, providing you with a chance to brag about Facebook’s social significance as an agent for good, and at the same time improve the experience for your millions of users.

Idea: Provide a separate feed for Facebook Activism content, allowing users to toggle back and forth between their News Feed and a new Activism Feed. (The name for the new feed is negotiable, but I fully expect to be reimbursed at the going rate for the idea.)

Now, you might ask how this content will be separated into the separate feeds, and I have a solution: Two simple radio buttons that allow the user to choose which feed a given post will appear in.

Naturally, it will take some time for users to get used to this change, and you have to be prepared for the usual apoplectic response you always get when you change anything about Facebook.

However, you know that the uproar never lasts long, and when the smoke clears Facebook will be providing a much more focused and effective tool for activists of all stripes and colors.

You can reach me by visiting the Contact page, here at Fish & Bicycles. I look forward to working with you on this project. (My wallet does too!)

Sincerely,
F&B
Founder, Editor, and Writer
Fish & Bicycles

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