“Question Authority” is a catchy mantra for someone in college. With the perspective of age, though, I wonder about the difference between questioning and challenging authority. Where do we draw the line, and where does it become illegal, i.e. harmful to society?
A favorite childhood book of mine, If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover — which, I realize now, formed the basis of my morality education at age 2 — posits a variation of the “jump off a cliff” refrain of parents: “What if everybody did?”
In other words, it might not hurt for me to litter my gum wrapper, but on the next page it would say, “What if everybody did?” and there would be a sea of gum wrappers, choking out all life and loveliness. Or, whom would it hurt if I spilled some tacks? Next page: This is what would happen if everybody did, and there would be people crying out in pain stepping barefoot on all the tacks. (Bonus lesson: It taught me the value of individuality, to not mindlessly follow the crowd. A bargain for a picture book priced today at $7.99.)
In my last post on Anonymous’ Nov. 5 threat against Facebook (not really a book), it wasn’t my intention to credit or blame the website as the sole driver of either social networking or flash mobs. Facebook simply gives a face to the phenom of society moving online. And The Social Network helped cement its marketing brand, although Facebook creators themselves staged a protest over that Oscar-winning spin.
More and more, as Facebook becomes the portal for Americans’ online experience — how many of you have it set as your “home” page? — the idea of any disruption of service starts to feel like a home invasion by people in freaky V for Vendetta-inspired Guy Fawkes masks.
So, what is Anonymous’ beef with Facebook?
Anonymity in the age of the Internet seems an oxymoron. Yet this loosely knit group of hacktivists thinks it knows enough to cover its tracks while it punishes the rest of us for being victims of sketchy privacy policies — for being naive or ignorant or, worse, too trusting.
It seems Anonymous considers Facebook fascist.
Although I don’t condone hacking or theft, if you bother to read the available manifestos on Anonymous’ “OpFacebook,” the group’s ends, if not their means, do border on noble-sounding: A sampling:
Expose Facebook’s crimes to as many people as possible.
Scorn Facebook as much as possible in as many ways as we can scheme up.
For me, the jury’s still out on whether Anonymous is composed of freedom fighters or terrorists. Maybe Netflixing V for Vendetta would provide insight; alas I fear it, like this blog, offers more questions than answers.
In terms of cyberterrorism, though, I see little difference between Anonymous using our personal info without our knowledge to stage protests and the “evil empire” Facebook using our personal info in ways we user-sheep wouldn’t dream of. The real battle at hand may be as basic as geek vs. user.
If I were Anonymous — and I’m far from it, just an overexposed blogger chick — I wouldn’t use as my default (profile picture) the face of a religious nut who sought to decimate the so-called reasonable representatives of the masses.
Is Anonymous’ true goal to get us to leave Facebook, to force positive change in its boardroom, or to destroy it — and online society — as we know it?
And, more important, what can I do to protect myself and my family? Even if I deactivated my account, it would be too late — my Facebook footprint is permanent and owned by a corporation. Hmm. Maybe it would be in my best interests if all that were destroyed.
Just don’t wanna lose my SCRABBLE stats and wry comments.
(In Part 2, we revisit our hero, Burgess Meredith, after the dastardly, senseless hydrogen bomb attack in Twilight Zone.)