Wednesday, May 25, 2011

facebook's culture of like

Is Facebook only for *liking?* What if you genuinely dislike something that is posted by a *friend* on facebook? Does the culture of the site discourage negative commenting? I recall a campaign a few months back for a *dislike* button, as an alternative to the *like* button, but nothing ever came of it. *Liking* goes beyond how you feel about a person's comment or photo- it's a large part of Facebook's marketing and integration with other sites. It's hard to find a major blog or news website that doesn't include FB *like* buttons as a feature for sharing posts.

What if you genuinely dislike something someone has posted on fb, or find it disturbing or distasteful? Do you feel comfortable expressing your opinion, or are you more apt to say nothing? I guess it depends on how well you know the person, how well they accept criticism, and how you deliver your message. But all of this is tricky and subjective. You can write something with the best of intentions and still fail to get your point across, have your words be misinterpreted, or even worse, have the comments be deleted.

I ran into a problem this past weekend involving some photos of girls in their junior prom dresses. I had a visceral reaction to some of the dresses and typed exactly what I thought- "too sexy, too mature, inappropriate." I made no personal attacks on the girls, said nothing mean or offensive, and tried to get my point across in the most direct way I know how. And yet, my comments were met with disbelief and horror. After some conversation back and forth, my comments were deleted- by my brother.

After he notified me of what he had done, I started a new thread, letting people know that my brother had censored my comments. The thread went on, with a few of my friends- these are actual friends, defending my point that prom dresses today are in fact too mature and too sexy. And yet, my brother refused to acknowledge my initial point, instead evading the question, claiming that I criticized the girls and not the dresses, bringing up irrelevant points and generally making an ass of himself. After a very frustrating few days, B pointed out that since my brother had deleted my comments, it had been pointless to engage him in conversation. Because in fact, he was now free to rewrite history to suit his own needs.

In a new post I wrote precisely what B had pointed out- that deleting comments allows you to rewrite history. And still, my brother continues to make false claims, commenting on the very post where I am trying to explain the problem with censorship. I say, whether you agree with what's been written or not, let the record stand. If the comments offend someone (which was my brother's alleged reason for deleting the comments- he said it hurt the feelings of a certain girl whose dress I singled out) then so be it. The girl already read the comments, so why bother deleting them? If you think I'm being offensive, then where's your proof?

I have written to Facebook, suggesting that if a comment is deleted, a flag should be put in its place to let people know. As it stands now, people are able to delete comments made by themselves and others, leaving gaps in conversations. Most reputable websites and forums indicate to the reader when a comment has been deleted, and whether it was by the commenter or the moderator.

My brother claims that the photos were posted for peoples' enjoyment and that commenting on them failed because my comments were unsolicited. I wasn't aware that one was able to post a photo with intention. I wouldn't assume that everyone would only *like* what I post on FB. There are those who don't like everything I do or say, and I accept that. It's life. If my brother's wife only wanted people to *enjoy* the prom photos, she could have invited people to her house to view the photos in private. FB blurs the line between what is public and what is private. It's private in the sense that you can choose your *friends* and set your own privacy settings. But it's public in that there are so many people with the ability to view your content- many more than you would invite to your living room to look at a photo album.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PRISM index

Jeffrey Bowers, who works at Fort Defiance, (one of the fine eating establishments on Van Brunt Street) stopped by recently with copies of PRISM index. PRISM index is like a grown-up zine. It's a collection of art and writing, offset printed, hand bound, and finished with a silkscreened cover done up on hand made paper. Inside the book are a compilation music cd and a dvd of short films. All of this is curated by Jeffrey, and Volume I contains work by 60 artists. We have a few copies for sale in the store, and at $25 it's a bargain indeed.

Cover art by Jeffrey Bowers

Luke Ramsay

Lisa Hanawalt