• Denby Weller

Journal Prompt 4

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Write a dialogue or screenplay with someone or something (can be your mother, partner, a child, a pet, or even an object or artefact) about your research. Write for 15 minutes - time yourself. Make it natural. Or absurd :-)

EXT. Night. A crumbling-brick alley, swathed in cold drizzle.

FACEBOOK enters, lurking under a scruffy fedora, keeping to the shadows.

Me: Hey, Facebook.

No answer.

Me: I can see you.

Nothing. He turns, and a shaft of dirty moonlight catches his sunken eyes. He pretends not to see me. Or any human being, for that matter.

Me: You know, I won't just go away if you pretend not to see me.

Facebook: Oh, hiii! Didn't see you there.

Me: That's how it is with you.

Facebook: Ouch. So, whatcha doing?

Me: Actually I'm trying to work out what you're made of.

Facebook: Like, code and stuff?

Me: No, that's not my area.

Facebook: Pictures and rants and likes then?

Me: No, more like... your cultural fabric.

Facebook snorts.


Me: Do you know about STS?

Facebook: I know about everything. I'm Facebook! Haven't you been paying attention to Shoshana Zuboff?

Me: I have, actually. But I think she's asking the wrong questions.

Facebook laughs derisively.

Me: No, I don't mean it like that – I just mean I think there are more pressing questions.

Facebook: More pressing than the erosion of your liberties and privacy?

Me: Y––

Facebook: More pressing than your headlong descent through total loss of volition into a numb state of overwhelming consumerism without hope for redemption?

Me: Wel––

Facebook: More pressing than––

Me: Look, are you asking questions or just ranting?

Facebook: Sorry. (Beat). Been spending too much time on myself lately.

Me: It shows.

Facebook: So what's your extraordinary, amazing, novel, fascinating question then?

I turn to walk off. His tone.

Facebook: No––really. I'm asking. What's your question?

Me: Okay, fine. It's something like... are the cultural conditions of post-dot-com-bust Silicon Valley somehow baked into your technology? Is there a legacy from that utopian, lawless, hyper-competitive and darkly capitalistic period in history that is somehow woven into your design, such that it perpetuates those values in user behaviour... manifesting in things like fake news?

Facebook is silent.

This is what school taught me propaganda looks like. Oh so out-of-date now!

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