I Told You So

The tech savvy people I read online are making a right sport of declaring themselves unsurprised by Facebook’s role in emotionally manipulating its users for “science.” As close observers of the tech industry they have every right to be unfazed by just how cruel these corporations can be. After all, they see fresh evidence of it just about every day.

What bugs me is this: that many of them—John Gruber and Warren Ellis, two guys I respect, come quickly to mind—are saying that they are surprised that anyone is surprised. “Didn’t you get the memo?” is the prevailing sentiment.

There are other ways to view this.

Could it be that the technoratti just straight up failed to communicate the potential for abuse to mass consumers? Most people don’t give a flying fuck about where their technology comes from so long as it works. I know that feels like a “primitive” viewpoint to you and me, but we’re technophiles more or less. We get off on having opinions on this stuff. We’ve forgotten that none of the muggles actually listens to us nerds just because The Big Bang Theory is TV’s top comedy.

Instead of clucking on about how they were smugly superior all along it would be better to seize this as a teaching moment. Don’t give into the “I told you so” urge, but crack open the media literacy lessons all the same. Media manipulates, it constantly does this. Intentionally and unintentionally alike, and we keep our eyes peeled for the intentional manipulation because it is so corrosive to a civil democratic society. If people are up in arms now then work with that and stop grousing about opportunities that din’t pan out in the past.

Guess what? They weren’t opportunities.

READING: Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss