Let’s face it folks: Facebook is the new opium of the masses

Confession time… I’m on Facebook. Or, as the aficionados call it: “FB”! Being something of a tyro still, I have yet to get round to initializing the latest craze and my new-found addiction. But before that, a shamefaced word of apology to my friends, family, and other fans of FB who patiently put up with my erstwhile tirades about this opiate of the Internet age. It’s blatant social engineering, I railed. It’s an identity-theft scam, I ranted. It’s the most mindless pursuit of the new millennium, I raved.

Now, less than a week at, in, or on (pardon my ignorance, once again) FB, I’ve discovered that it’s also fun, a bag of tears and smiles, and a bigger waste of time than I ever thought possible in my uninitiated phase. I recant, dears. For the present, at least! There’s always a chance (slim at that and rapidly disappearing like Alice down the rabbit-hole) that I may repent of this folly at some distant date in the future.

For the moment, I have hardly a spare minute to reflect on how far off the mark George Orwell was when he envisaged that the human race would be discontent, each one locked up in a cubicle of cramped space, connected to reality only through a window on the rest of the world through which the masses themselves could spy on you.

The four stages of life

Of course, like all good things in life, I expect to go through the four stages of enthusiasm towards FB. It’s like riding a bicycle, really. First, there’s un-enchantment: you don’t even know what a bicycle is. Secondly, there’s enchantment: surprised by joy, impatient as the wind… as a seat, a handlebar, and two wheels take you over the horizon and on to wherever the road leads. In the third stage, disenchantment sets in: scratches, knocks, and bruises; punctures and poor alignment; worn-out muscles. In the fourth and final stage, usually much later in life than the first three, there’s re-enchantment: when you actually prefer a quiet bike ride in the countryside to gadding about town in flashy cars or souped-up jalopies. FB, no doubt, will follow the same pattern in one’s life… one lives in hope?

Meanwhile, the biggest beneficiaries are not the gallery of fine folk on FB who are being poked, bitten, ninja-thwacked or otherwise acted upon by familiars and being comforted by strangers. It’s the powers that be, who have now been left alone to pursue their own ambitions in the wide world out there which we have all seemingly deserted, that are making the most of the breather we citizens have given them.

No more time for critical commentary in the newspapers, which has become something of a wasteland anyway! No more energy to invest in blogging in the murky depths of cyberspace, where all meaningful comment had fled to escape the heavy-handed stamp of the goon-like censor’s jackboot. All one has interest for now are walls, photo albums and info boxes, and a wild but clean enough ride on the most interesting drive – to date – along the information superhighway. That’s the least of the prizes and surprises that this jovial social forum has to offer, as one is fast finding out. Gifts, quizzes, trivia, status quos, people power, links, likes, comments, sharing what’s on your mind… the bounty of FB is endless! My cup runneth over! I’ve all but forgotten crime, corruption, the rising cost of living…

Shrink’s prescription

That’s why I believe Sri Lanka will never ban FB, despite off and on noises to that effect. Because it’s just what the doctor ordered for the forces of evil (ha, ha) out there. A nice, quiet, soporific that will keep the once-angry, always-hungry masses meek, docile, and strangely submissive. Even the more radical commentators who let off some steam at the state of the nation (etc.) do so in a hamstrung, half-hearted, demi-semi-healthily ‘rage against the dying of the light’ kind of way. While out there, in the land of the lotus-eaters, things happily merrily steadily go from worse to so bad that you think it must be good…

More opium, anyone? Yes, please, make mine a triple shot to go! And if you think I’ve got it right about the big trick that those who ruin (er, run) our country are playing on us, let me know on FB that you ‘like’ this…

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