facebook and the dark side of computers

Dear Friends,

I was in our local co-op yesterday and, as often happens, I ran into a friend. My friend started by saying, “you know, I’ve started to sign up for facebook three or four times, and then I realize it wants me to give over all of my emails… I’m just not going to do it. It looks innocent- but it’s all of my emails!” I said, “I know- I’ve been almost logging on to facebook too- and when I get to those emails- I’m out of there!”

We talked there in the aisle, me holding my cereal and freshly ground coffee, one thing led to another and soon we had a full purging crank session lasting 45 minutes. Themes flowed through lack of privacy, crazy games with 60 MILLION players monthly (and there aren’t even space aliens involved like when I was a kid!), large security threats to nations, corporations and individuals, and the physical hazardous waste that all of our electronics are producing. There in the grocery aisle, I knew enough not to even mention the belief in the coming of the singularity (and believe me, it’s not about the oneness of the Shema or the mythic coming of Mashiach.)

And yet, at the same time, I’m also an independent storyteller and educator. I want to find ways to utilize the mighty power of the web to connect with others in ways that will potentially serve story and the earth. How do I do this without forgetting, without totally capitulating to computer technology’s dark side- its shadow- its sitra acher and all of the dancing demon agents of gevurah that live there.

Entering this paradox (still there in the grocery aisle), this new blog series was born. So buckle up and hold on tight. What you are about to hear may shock you, overwhelm you, cause you to stay up late at night frozen in fear. My hope is to create conversations, a place to share our stories and our links, exploring the full impact we are witnessing computers are having on our lives. What impacts would you add to the above list?

I dedicate this new series to my small trio of companions, back at the Teva Seminar 5770, who encouraged similar ideas when Jewcology.com and her many blogs was still a dream. And to Donella Meadows (may her memory be for a blessing), who reminds us again and again to think like a system.

Tonight I’ll leave you with a story (of course) adapted from Reb Nachman of Breslov, and a video introducing the electronics material production cycle from Annie Leonard: The Electronic Story of Stuff. I’ll write more next time, but for now, I have 33 new facebook friends to greet!

The Poisoned Grain adapted from Reb Nachman of Breslov:

Once a King turned to his old friend and advisor and said, "I see in my mind’s eye that the wheat growing this year will cause those who eat of it to go crazy. What shall we do?"
"Let us prepare enough wheat from other sources so that we won't have to eat of this poisoned wheat."
"But then," replied the King, "all the world will be crazy and only we will be sane. In this upside down situation we will become the crazy ones. Instead, let us place a mark on our foreheads to remind us, so that when we look at each other we will see our marks and remember that we are acting crazy because we are living through crazy times.”


Link to the story of stuff website and video here to find out about the story of stuff project along with a national ewaste campaign and a whole mess of background materials. Next time, I'll introduce RoHs and WEEE, the EU's restriction on hazardous substance law and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment take back law (in place since 2007). Stay tuned. Questions? Comments? Please write to me at david@maggiddavid.net; www.maggiddavid.net

3 Replies to "facebook and the dark side of computers"

  • Deborah Klee Wenger
    November 15, 2011 (5:20 am)

    Great link – and I loved the video!

  • Evonne Marzouk
    November 16, 2011 (9:58 am)

    I love the Reb Nachman story. Would it be too ironic if I shared this on facebook?

  • David Arfa
    November 16, 2011 (10:16 pm)

    Hi Evonne- Yes, by all means- please share on facebook and beyond! I am a new facebook user- and it is very ironic. Our lives are full of contradictions, eh? I used to think I could live without eating the tainted grain. Now, my hope is to at least remember the ways the grain is tainted, and perhaps, ways to clean the grain will become evident. Next blog will be exploring the a few EU solutions. II find it hard to grock how the US is slipping in environmental quality. So, yes, please share this far and wide. It’s time for some old fashioned consciousness raising and exploration of our internalized consumerism!

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