Facebook Conspiracy Theories

If you are on Facebook and happen to be one of my FB friends, you may have seen my most recent status update:

Ruth Hubbard

As of today, Facebook staff will be allowed to eat your children and pets. To turn this option off, go to Settings, then Privacy, then Meals. Click the top button to not feed the employees of Facebook anything. Copy this to your status to warn your friends!

For those who are not on FB, this may not make any sense at all. It seems that every few months someone starts a FB rumor about some change that the administrators of FB are going to make to the system into which so many of us have  invested ourselves that will threaten our personal security, that will abuse our trust and misuse our data (photos, phone numbers, names of our cats, etc.) Sometimes those “the sky is falling” warnings come with instructions on how to combat the evil intrusion in some way or another. Other times they come with calls to advocacy and action — to join FB groups protesting this bad behavior.

So, I’ve not given it all that much thought, but yesterday, when Trisha posted the status update that made me lol (laugh out loud) and then I lifted it from her page and put it on my own (thanking her for it), I had a thought. Mind you, I don’t know if this is true, I just know it sounds reasonable to me.

Why do we so quickly believe these status WARNINGS?  I think that two things contribute. These two things are based totally unscientific “research” that would suggest that FB users who are over 40 are more likely to believe the WARNINGS. (Yeah, you’re hearing this correctly, this is just me blithering on and not at all proven, tested, put under any sort of scrutiny of any kind.)

First thing?  Our parents taught us that if anything seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.

Facebook albums– from the perspective of a generation that printed photos at a cost of $0.25 per or more and put them into albums on book shelves and had double prints made so we could share them sometimes — are too good to be true.

Facebook’s capacity — from the perspective of a generation that paid big bucks for early computers which boasted 20 MB of memory on the hard drive — is too good to be true.

Facebook’s cost — from a generation who chants in unison “you get what you pay for” — is too good to be true.  We are all waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Second thing?  We lived through the Cold War.

We grew up fearing Big Brother (and it wasn’t a reality television show where scantily clothed people act badly and play games to try to win money) and rehearsing responses to the probable invasion of the enemy and the potential loss of our American Way of Life. Basically, we are a generation (or two) who were conditioned to see conspiracy.

Add to that the left-over angst and enthusiasm that worked so hard to stick it to the man by wearing long hair and torn jeans, listening to loud music and using odd slanguage that confused our old man, and you’ve got a recipe for paranoia that expresses itself in activism.

That’s what I’m thinking, anyhow. I could be wrong.

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