Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grumbling about Facebook

"One means of communication is as good as another." I wrote that last week to mean that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube were just as good as newspapers, books, and magazines.

That's true, but glib. The big problem with the new social media is that nobody gets paid. Thousands of journalists are walking the street, or pounding out blogs for Huffington Post -- for free. Doing for free what they used to get paid to do. Doing it for free because they can't help themselves.

And thousands of clerical workers --thrown out of work by craigslist.org. There used to be a room full of women at the offices of the Skagit Valley Herald -- lots of jobs -- and these women answered the phone and took down the details for classified advertising. And the newspaper made money off those ads and used that money to hire reporters to get the news.

Everybody got paid.

In the new model, nobody gets paid, except the people who own Google and they are wealthy beyond measure.

You could say they were innocent, the people who invented craigslist.org and YouTube and Twitter -- just a bunch of geeks who found a cool new app and let it loose on the world.

Innocent like two-year-olds who have no sense of responsibility for the damage they have left behind.

No, these people, these inventor geeks are not innocent. If you don't take the time to think of what the longer and wider consequences of your actions will be, then you can make no claim to maturity.

Many thousands of people out of work.

I have no solution, the job-killing spread of social media, these crazy ideas about how it's supposed to "advance communication" and "create new jobs." That is a fanciful lie. Because I know too many people who used to get paid, and now they can do it for free.

Facebook is free. Twitter is free. YouTube is free. And nobody gets nothing.

1 comment:

Alexander Kramer said...

I agree that the free-trading of information in this digital age has damaged job-opportunities, but people can use creativity to find the right outlets.

It's all about adaptability.

There are many people who have actually been pretty successful in getting paid for these "free" sites. I know of at least one guy my age who is fully devoted to making videos for his YouTube channel, and gets paid for it.

Also, some authors have stumbled across Twitter as a way to publish books in innovative ways (and attract fans through there and Facebook). And, several bloggers on various sites (Google's Blogger, WordPress, etc.) are getting noticed a lot (take Julie and Julia for instance--started as a blog).

Sure, these new digital-institutions are obstacles, but there are plenty of ways for getting past them.