Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Bill Fletcher, Jr.

It happened very suddenly over the summer. I have been using Facebook for several years. A friend convinced me that once my Facebook “friends” had hit the 5000 mark (the maximum permitted) that I should replace my existing page with a “Fan Page” or “Celebrity Page.” It sounds more important than it actually is. It permits you to get an unlimited number of “Likes” to your page; you can post whatever you choose; you can get private messages from anyone who likes your page. But you cannot “like” other pages and you cannot have “Facebook Friends.” Let’s leave aside, for a moment, whether or not it was a good idea for me to create this page.

In any case, this summer, overnight, the ability to reply to “Comments” that were made on my page disappeared. In other words, anyone “liking” my page was still able to offer a comment on anything that I posted, but I no longer could respond to their comments. I assumed that all I needed to do was to reboot my computer. I did that, yet nothing changed. I tried opening up Facebook via Internet Explorer rather than Chrome. Nothing changed. I tried opening Facebook via my iPhone; again nothing changed. I sent a “Help” message to Facebook about the problem. No answer. I started asking around, but no one knew what to do. A computer expert friend of mine started looking into the problem and discovered that many other people were having exactly the same problem, yet no one was getting an answer from Facebook. I sent two or three more messages to Facebook asking them for help, but heard nothing. Finally, my computer expert friend discovered a way around the problem so that I have regained the ability to respond to “Comments.” To this day, Facebook has yet to reply to my inquiries.

Why do you need to know any of this? The experience has been very unsettling. Instead of being addressed by Facebook, I felt blown off. To add to this problem, there was no other way to get Facebook to respond to my concerns. In other words, there was no accountability and, simply put, I was stuck. There is no phone number to call, nor any monitoring agency from which I could gain assistance.

We are in an era of incredible dependence on electronic technology, the so-called Information Age. We seem to speak with other human beings less frequently in business, commerce, and even social interactions. Instead we either interact with machines or we are told that we need to get answers from other ‘customers’ rather than being addressed by the company, organization, etc., where the problem lies. We are then left to accept our situation, whether the problem has been resolved or not.

The situation we have found ourselves facing is one with the growth of robotic technology, the massive accumulation of wealth by a small number of people who control this technology, the dismissal of human labor in the supposed interest of increasing productivity, and the burden for resolving problems—or even the burden of carrying out the work of the company or organization—placed on the “customers.”

Welcome to 2016!

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at http://www.billfletcherjr.org.

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