the destroyer > cheap papers > Drew Krewer


I’m trying to imagine what a death announcement for Facebook would look like. The only thing that really comes to mind is a reel, akin to the “In Memoriam” segment of the Oscars. The “Look Back” videos Facebook introduced during their 10th anniversary year, in a way, do the job quite well––concerted efforts of nostalgia.

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In October 2004, it was announced that Oberlin was going to become part of the Facebook network. In true OC fashion, an epic party was organized around the whole affair, and my friend Amy was begging me to go, even though I knew I would totally end up scowling in a corner somewhere, totally unenthused about this whole face thing.

The party was at this large house on a hill where these kids had thrown a “beach party” the winter before––they had heated the entire place to around 80° and people were walking around in bathing suits, the air outside hovering right around subzero. Resting beside some fake palm trees was the hockey team’s unofficial, renegade mascot––a human-sized paper mache penis.

This past party was all flashback and in my face as we ascended the stairs up the hill, and as we walked in the door, we were asked to wear nametags to facilitate “friending.”

I liberated Amy from my impassivity, encouraging her to “friend” people while I walked over to the kegs to get a beer and watch people dance to “Like a Prayer” from the sidelines. There was a girl standing beside the other keg, and I could tell from her stance that we were both on similar frequencies, attitude-wise.

I had actually been introduced to her years before, but I had always thought she was a bitch. I said hi; she was a poet, too; and we became close friends in her few remaining months before graduation. We’re still in touch to this day, and I can safely say we are lifelong friends.

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Some people believe the notion of privacy never existed. Small prairie towns rife with gossip, insular Appalachian communities, paper thin walls in some boarding house in a city. This lack of privacy, at it’s most basic, was localized; the greatest repercussion for overheard pieces of conversation or decontextualized behavior was localized shame. And while something like the Salem witch trials may further extend this argument, there was never the expectation that anyone outside the confines of the community was watching.

More recently, in the 1960s, neighborhood watch campaigns began to flourish. The governmental structures wanted us to watch each other. That was innocent enough. We were on the prairie.

As VCR technology became available in the 1970s, closed-circuit television became a more viable source of surveillance, as records could be established from recordings and people could be prosecuted based upon them.

The potential for the abuse of this technology was limited (localized).

Now it seems we are surveilling ourselves and sending out the footage to an amorphous, nationalized (internationalized?) audience. Not to mention, all of that data is theoretically passing through this place:

A common response seems to be: “I’m not doing anything wrong. What do I have to worry about?” This is a localized, analog thought.

A closed-circuit camera has a presence. The harvesting of data is faceless, and the processing and interpretation of that data is unknown. If the height of local surveillance [abuse] was an event like the Salem witch trials, what would a contemporary event look like involving the widespread misunderstanding and/or abuse of personal data?

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75 likes, 35 comments.
Wednesday at 9:36pm near New York, NY
                 – Amy King, poet

“Ideas like Facebook are like diseases. They have a tendency to spread like an infectious disease, and they die out in the same manner over time. In addition, this can be successfully depicted using epidemiological models.”

“Pinterest’s Pin It button overtook the Facebook Like button and the Tweet button on product pages.” – 2014

“Parents ruined Facebook.”

“With around 85% of its revenue coming from advertising, it lives or dies by its number of users.”

“According to researchers at Princeton, Facebook can expect to lose at least 80 percent of its users by the year 2017.”

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After we had established an interim teaser site, The Destroyer launched an initial promotion campaign in the summer of 2011, primarily on Facebook. I was in Mexico that day with my friend Barbara, sitting at a table in her family’s beach house. I was rapidly shooting requests to join our Facebook page. I personally messaged the co-editors and my closest friends to tell them to like our video and to add us immediately so that it would show up in feeds; it was kind of easy to rig your promotional strategy with timing and friendpower.

Later, after our submissions increased, Facebook launched its new model for “pages”––you had to pay to get the free, effective publicity you had been getting all along.

This is when I first remember starting to fall out of love with the FB.

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Days before I finished this piece, Vice posts this.

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The best way I can describe how Facebook feels to me now is how Tucson began to feel as my core group of friends began to move away after they had completed graduate school. Slowly, the town emptied, and while some of the greatest friends remain, the entirety of the community I fell in love with when I first moved there is for the most part gone.

While Facebook has played an essential role in keeping me connected with certain friends, I can’t help but feel like that connection keeps getting interrupted by ads, dubious data practice, clandestine social manipulation experiments, and ever-changing privacy features that require well-written “how-to” articles to instruct users on how to keep those party photos from 2004 from suddenly becoming public.

With the recent World Cup fever, I’ve been thinking a lot about the structures that are built to house the athletes, the elaborate stadiums built for a very finite event. The photos of the abandoned Olympic villages.

I imagine this decline going something like that.

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