“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
Jose Antonio Vargas is a millennial. So is the subject of his latest piece for Huffington Post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Like all influential and complex entrepreneurs, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is many things to many people. But he is, first and foremost, our young century’s first Millennial CEO.
…Everything is better with your friends, Zuckerberg likes to say, and he envisions the Web as becoming more and more social, because we, as people, are inherently social. We share. We tell stories. We make friends. To that end, Facebook is creating, and has succeeded in creating, a Web of its own, launching products and applications in which people’s relationships are at the core of the user experience.
Vargas argues that Facebook Platform, Facebook Connect and the Open Graph present a fundamentally different Web in which being social and being public are the norms. Vargas also makes note of Kara Swisher’s line from last Sunday’s 60 Minutes segment on Facebook and Zuckerberg, “The toddler’s a prodigy, as turns out.”
Zuckerberg was born in 1984, an Orwellian year if there ever was one. In 1984, I was a sophomore at Franklin & Marshall College, listening to Grateful Dead, drinking a lot of beer and writing stories for The College Reporter. I did not own a computer, but all F&M students were made to purchase one just one year after I enrolled. In 1984.
In Orwell’s novel 1984, centralized control over society is managed through the screen. “Big Brother is watching you.” The great irony, of course, is that in real life we are watching Big Brother. The screen is now our culture’s most familiar and addictive device. Naturally, a millennial would not attach a negative word like “addictive” to the screen, because the screen is like air to a millennial, abundant and necessary. And what could possibly be wrong with interacting for hours on end, day after day, with one’s digitally-enabled friends?
Personally, I’m pleased that I grew up at a time when the screen knew its place. Earlier today in downtown Portland, I watched one woman who was texting while walking nearly collide with another woman talking on her phone as she walked. It’s comical what goes on today. But our obsession with, and over-reliance on the computer is no joke. Be that as it may, Zuckerberg and many other smart, well meaning people are driving us as fast as they can toward a cliff. What’s on the other side is anyone’s guess, but the science fiction masters have been right before, they’ll be right again.