So, you can no longer be a 'fan' of something on Facebook. I used to be a 'fan' of Salter Cane. Now, apparently, I just 'like' them.
Well, Facebook, I happen not to like Salter Cane; I freakin' love them thank you very much! That's why I made the commitment to their Facebook entity of declaring myself a 'fan'. It's also why I'm not a fan of the million other pages people have suggested I might become a fan of.
I guess the move was made because people might, quite reasonably, feel uneasy about being a 'fan' of anything. It's a bit of a childish notion that perhaps we've grown out of. But as Facebook last year removed their over 18's policy I don't think that makes much sense. People are used to the action of 'liking' on Facebook, so they've decided to use that one action to cover a multitude of bases. Hmm. Let's have a look at that shall we?
The end of love
At times like this people tend to say "Ah, it's just semantics, don't worry about it." Just semantics? I find it hard to think of anything more important than semantics! Semantics is, quite literally, the meaning of the words. So if the meaning isn't important then what the hell is the point of talking at all?
In Facebook-world, the word 'like' is becoming a synonym for love, lust after, feel moved by, join, agree with, want-my-friends-to-know-about, not-hate, find funny, find sexually arousing, grosses me out, fancy...
Kill me now
We've all read 1984, right? It's a book about totalitarianism, sure. Fascism = bad. But the primary tool of that super-controlled state is language. It's a book about semantics, the meaning of words. It describes the way in which human expression is controlled by changing the meaning of words and allowing only limited expression where it might benefit the state, not the individual.
I'm not suggesting Facebook is some evil empire in waiting, but it does upset me greatly when any individual is denied the ability to properly express themselves, for whatever reason. It's why I love the bastard English language so much; we've nicked so many words from around the world that our language has become an insanely rich way of expressing ourselves in subtle and beautiful ways. Or blunt and ugly ways too of course, as the situation requires.
And we're now rushing, for the expediencies of the Facebook designers, and those of their ilk, to remove the very subtleties that define our evolved humanity.
OK computer, calm down!
I know language has to change and adapt. I've read Bill Bryson; I know those awful Americanisms are often actually 'proper' English that we've moved on from on this side of the pond. I know the young folks don't want us old folks to know what the dickens they're on about. I know all this, and it's fine. But I just fear a slow chipping away at something rich and expressive, leaving us gawping at each other, dribbling, grunting "me like... me no like..." like a bunch of technologically advanced cavemen.
Thoughtcrime is death
I'll leave it to George Orwell to round off my rant as I could never put it so well:
"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?... Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."
George Orwell, from 1984
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