We have Artificial Intelligence but no Artificial Empathy
A fascinating thing happened last night. Facebook killed my account.
I don’t pay much attention to the terms of service when I use message boards and Twitter and so on. I figure that if I behave, everything will be fine. I didn’t know, or I forgot, that Facebook has an unusual requirement: they insist that you use your real name.
Using your real name on the Internet is not a bright idea. If you have enough of a presence, determined people will be able to find out who you are and what your address is, but most people are not determined, so if you use an alias, they will leave you alone. I generally use aliases.
I used my real name on Facebook for quite some time, but one day I decided to change that. I altered the last name. Then last night Facebook told me I would have to send them a scan of an ID in order to get back in. And the name on the ID had to match my Facebook name.
This adds up to abrupt, permanent obliteration. I can’t produce an ID with a fake name on it, so I’m all done. I can’t get back in. Everything I posted on Facebook will disappear, and so will my photos.
Am I mad at Facebook? Yes, but only because they gave me no warning. They should say, “If you don’t give us your real name within x days, we will kill your account.” That would give you time to tell people your time was short, so they would realize you hadn’t blocked them. Other than that, I’m not mad at all. Facebook can do anything it wants with its own service.
Now that I think about it, it’s a form of social extortion. If they gave you time to leave gracefully, you would be in control of the situation. Because they slam the door with no warning, you end up in a position where you have to do what they want. To me, this isn’t important, but to many people, it’s a big deal. They use Facebook for business, or they have big networks of people they need to stay in touch with for one reason or another. Also, there are things on the web you can sign into using Facebook, and they may be more important to you than Facebook itself.
My guess is that the nerds at Facebook thought this over carefully and did it on purpose in order to coerce us. Maybe the NSA gave them the idea, or maybe it’s just typical nerd behavior. Nerds tend to have stunted hearts, and they like controlling other people. They are very dangerous because of their power, lack of maturity, and lack of empathy. Maybe the wedgies and red bellies they get when they’re young are society taking revenge in advance.
I lost like 1300 uploaded photos. That’s a relief. I saw the exact figure the other day, and the size of it bothered me. I didn’t realize I had uploaded so many things. I didn’t want them to have that much stuff. Now they don’t, in a way. It’s still on their servers, but they can’t publish it any more. They can still give it to Obama, I guess, but the Fourth Amendment is dead, so he can get his hands on just about anything he wants with or without Facebook, and as far as I know, he has no reason to bother me anyway.
I didn’t actually lose the photos. I just lost the online collection. I still have them. After all, I had to have them in order to upload them.
Facebook was a handy way to put things on the Internet. If I wanted to post a photo on a forum or my blog, I could upload it to Facebook from my phone. That’s very quick. Then I could copy it to my PC and upload it again, wherever I wanted. I will miss that. Now I’ll have to use email.
What’s really interesting is not the effect on my online presence, though. It’s the way it affects my offline life.
I was using Facebook too much. I’m a writer, and for me, writing is about as hard as breathing. I can produce huge amounts of content with almost no effort, and I enjoy it. Facebook was an outlet for me, and it was easy to use, so I filled it up.
I got in the habit of looking at my phone a lot. Once I caught myself turning away from Facebook on the PC to check Facebook on my phone.
Habits can be pretty crazy. Obviously, I knew what I did was irrational, but I was very used to looking at Facebook when I took a break from things, and I had just taken a break from…Facebook.
To a great extent, I let Facebook replace offline interaction with people. I am solitary by nature, and I got pushed out of my church–my biggest social outlet–earlier this year. I used Facebook to stay close to people I knew. This is a legitimate, possibly healthy use of Facebook, but only as an adjunct. Not when it becomes a substitute.
When I saw I was exiled, I felt like I was in withdrawal. I didn’t like the sensation. But I was glad, because getting rid of things you depend on too much is always good.
I had a long prayer session last night. God showed me some things.
He showed me my prayers are answered with much greater consistency these days. He showed me that he is restoring things. He showed me that he is changing my heart so I side with him, even against myself. He showed me how I had sided against him for most of my life.
You don’t just side against God by committing obvious sins like fornication and stealing. You side against him by believing lies about him and criticizing him in your heart. If you think, even for an instant, that he isn’t doing the best job possible, and that his intentions toward you aren’t perfect, you’re siding against him. You’re believing the devil and the spoiled people who think God doesn’t do enough for them. If you think he is slow to answer, or that he is withholding good things for no sound reason, you’re siding against him. If you feel resentment toward him when something unpleasant happens, even if your mind hates the feeling and admits it’s wrong, your heart is siding against him.
You have to side with God, because he IS right, and you have to do one more thing: you have to hate Satan and have utter contempt for him. He is nothing. He is the excrement of creation. The lake of fire is creation’s septic tank. That’s harsh, but it’s true. He is totally worthless. You have to despise him as well as his ways and his promises.
The supernatural is full of symmetry. If we are supposed to praise God, of course we are supposed to contemn the ridiculous loser spirits that are against him, just as law-abiding citizens contemn the sleazy, defeated, stupid individuals who populate the underworld.
Somehow or another, this was related to the Facebook problem, but I can’t recall how.
God reminded me of something I realized recently: my days of defeat are over. Because I have been asking for correction, I have been turned around so I am headed in the right direction. I have not received every good thing life has to offer, but I am now headed toward them, and I can’t be stopped. I can be deterred temporarily, but it is no longer possible to overcome me permanently. I will win. No one who is against me has the power to prevent it. They are all losers. They don’t have the capacity to win.
I will win because I am becoming aligned with the will of the only real power there is: the permanent alpha male of all creation. If I am for him in my heart, and I keep turning back to him, no one else matters. They are lower than bugs before his power.
That’s really something. Crazy things may happen, but I’ve already won. Things will never stop getting better for me. Never. I’m like a leper who just received a dose of a cure. I may have scabs and sores today, but tomorrow I will have fewer of them, and a month from now, even more will have fallen off. Meanwhile, new scabs and sores will continue to appear on my enemies.
I can’t ask for instantaneous victory in all areas, but life is now a continuous and perpetual series of victories, so I will live my way into blessings day by day as long as I’m alive, like a product on an assembly line, receiving new parts as it progresses.
The one big change I would like to see is this: I would like to lose the habit of anticipating defeat that doesn’t come.
God gives me victory, over and over. “Victory” pretty much implies “battle,” though. Things that seem like problems arise, and I do supernatural warfare, and my faith tells me I’ve won. Then I win. But often I still worry, and that prevents me from enjoying victory until my eyes see it.
I’ve been bitten in the rear end a lot in life. Many times, I’ve been in positions where victory was natural and seemed inevitable, and in spite of everything, I’ve experienced sudden, unexpected attacks followed by defeat. That got me in the habit of expecting to lose. The habit of losing creates the habit of expecting loss. I’m much better about this than I used to be, but I look forward to a time when the habit of worry is totally destroyed. That way, instead of enjoying victory when I see it, I’ll start enjoying it as soon as God tells me it’s mine. That’s how life is supposed to be.
I don’t know if I’ll join Facebook again. It’s nice to be away from it. It’s also nice to use it to communicate.
I am concerned about the controlling nature of the people who design technology, as well as the controlling nature of technology itself. People tend to pass their traits on to their children, and technology has many warped, cruel, amoral, unempathetic fathers.
When you use Facebook now, it sends you ads based on things you’ve seen on the web, even if you try to opt out. If you look at something on Amazon, it will pop up over and over on Facebook. If it’s doing that with wrenches and T-shirts, what happens when you go to political and religious sites? What happens if you look at pornography or you have cybersex? Are the warm, loving, forgiving nerds disposing of all that powerful information, because they respect your privacy?
If God lets the world persist, technology is going to become extremely oppressive. They already have enough cheap storage to contain all of our emails and cell calls. The power of technology will continue to increase. And because technology never forgets and always analyzes, weird things will happen.
The Internet will know when you’re sick, before your doctor does. It will know if you use drugs, just by correlating things about your web use with known information about drug users, even if you never mention drugs on the Internet. It will know things about your relationships, before you and the people in your relationships suspect them. It will start to predict the future with surprising accuracy, and eventually, lawmakers will decide that we have to defer to its conclusions. America will be like a giant, self-driven Google car.
We already have “pre-crime” interventions. Blogger Michele Catalano got a surprise visit from armed feds because someone in her home Googled “pressure cooker.” It won’t be all that long before the feds have the power to bring a van to your house, put you and your family in it, and whisk you away to indefinite incarceration without trial, simply because the Internet says you’re going to cause problems. This will happen to people before they even think about rocking the boat. The Internet will know their intentions before they form them. It will be wrong sometimes, but how will you prove that? If Mama Internet says you’re going to shoot the president, and they put you away before you can do it, and you never get the chance, how do you prove she was wrong?
Facebook may be the tool that turns into Big Brother, or it may be Google Hangouts, or it may be something we haven’t seen yet, but we are all being turned into cells in one big, diseased brain. Loss of liberty is inevitable. Privacy, like private property, is an essential part of liberty. We don’t think about that much. I’ve never seen anyone mention the connection publicly.
I wonder if the ability to post memes and look at cat pictures is so valuable it justifies jumping back into the cage. Maybe it does. Maybe resistance IS futile, so I might as well make hay while the sun shines.
The devil has a long history of constructing seemingly impregnable structures, which God crushes with surprising speed. He and the other angels had huge children who were much more powerful than humans, and God drowned them all in a few days. Satan condemned the entire human race to hell and won the earth as a prize, and God reversed it with the crucifixion. The huge artificial brain that surrounds the earth appears to be Satan’s latest stronghold. Do we run from it in terror, or should we just enjoy technology and rest in the realization that this stronghold, like every one that came before it, will be humbled and rendered harmless?
I don’t know the answer yet.
I may sign up again. I may not. I’m not sure staying out will help me. On the other hand, I’m sure that going back in will not hurt me. Not in any meaningful, lasting way.