It appears that Facebook and the banks which led its flotation will now be facing lawsuits from disappointed shareholders. Since a failure to disclose a reduction in revenue forecasts meant an over-inflated initial list price, quick profits are now unlikely. The company, which doesn’t produce anything at all and never will, was originally valued at $104 billion and attracted unprecedented interest from speculators globally. Meanwhile, the real world – the actual place where we live, work and breathe – continues to suffer financial crisis as the money runs out and investment dries up.
I hate to sound obtuse but I really think I’m missing something here: it rather strikes me that people’s priorities have gone somewhat askew when the biggest single investment being made during a time of international crisis is into something which isn’t even real and which only exists at all because of the advertising revenue which it may be able to generate. Is tawdry entertainment really more valuable to what remains of civilisation than a proper infrastructure, a health service, an education system, a manufacturing base or farming? Countless generations have lived, raised families, tried to build a better future for their children – but all of that apparently pales into insignificance compared to being able to post photographs of an evening meal, amusing pets or toddling children accompanied by the ubiquitous, asinine (and occasionally misunderstood) ‘LOL’.
And of course the value of the advertising space was over-estimated – after all, what can realistically be marketed to people who have insecure incomes and who increasingly struggle to afford life’s bare essentials? In many parts of the world, people are starving and children die from preventable disease and malnutrition; meanwhile Greece, the birthplace of modern civilisation, of art and of philosophy, is suffering economic meltdown as the population are forced into penury. Still, maybe from whatever wreckage is left, after the finance houses have finished gambling with commodities and cyberspace, there will be a chance that we can all go and live in a virtual world. Perhaps then we can try to feed people from virtual farms and ask them to go and live in virtual towns where they can spend virtual money in virtual shops.
The sci-fi movie Terminator gave us a chilling warning of a dark future where machines had taken over and destroyed humanity, but the truth is, as ever, far more banal: the internet seems to have ensured that we will go out not with a bang but with a pathetic whimper. The closest mankind now gets to the spirit of revolution is sitting on those spinning chairs in front of our laptops and PCs.
This is all a tragically far cry from the mature, free society that our ancestors once dreamed of. Socrates and Plato must be spinning in their graves. Then again, how can we expect people to maintain their grip on reality when the concept of reality itself has been all but annihilated by the media? It makes me almost ashamed to be human.
Picture of a cat with some inane comment posted below it, anyone?