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By Ikhide R. Ikheloa

Thursday, January 06, 2011.

In the year 2010, Facebook became a sub-continent of 500 million people. This little celebrated milestone marked Facebook as the tsunami that roared and no one heard it. Even as we peer out broken walls, Facebook is tearing up all our paradigms and attitudes and forcing us to look at life anew, in awe. Wikileaks showcases the new culture riding on the backs of new media like Facebook, Twitter and unknown civilizations lurking in the shadows of geeks’ dreams. In the year 2010, the new frontier edged into our consciousness. We must deal with it.

In the beginning there were walls. Man built impregnable walls. Or so it seemed. It is the mystery of the human existence that all our anxieties seem to revolve around spaces and walls that cannot accommodate them and our anxieties. The first mobile phone was two empty tins of milk connected together with taut string by two little boys reaching out across to each other from walls erected by misbehaving adults. Wall have been poked, probed and crushed in the names of freedom, anarchy and tyranny. Yet no wall has been built that is strong enough to contain our prejudices, yearnings and desires.

When you think about it, the world is in economic turmoil today because all our economic theories have been built around assumptions of fixed physical boundaries. There is an impish deity upstairs because not content with the ships of the seas and of the air, chafing at the wires that gave us the telephone and faxes, she gave us the Internet. And the walls shook, woozy from all those holes shot through the fears of those who do not like, do not want the new movement of color sweeping across the same lands that were stolen from them in the first place. And then Facebook came along and the walls are coming crashing down.  Welcome to Facebook. Welcome to our world.

In 2010 Facebook demonstrated a seismic shift in how we view relationships and communities. Relationships are now being formed a la carte. It is perhaps now easier to say earn my attention. On the other hand there is a dark side to this new dispensation. We must be wary. Facebook and the new social networking media allow people to ignore their surroundings because they can simply escape it, Nigeria being an example of what I am talking about.  Even as Facebook creeps up on the world as the new world and people begin to call themselves digital natives, it is clear that Facebook as a phenomenon is difficult to explain.

I recently watched the movie Social Network based on Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg.  One was forced to endure overwrought acting, illogical sequences and a stunning lack of vision. The script performed the extraordinary feat of making Facebook look more like a jigsaw puzzle than an amazing phenomenon. The movie Social Network did not get it:  The world is in a relationship with Facebook. It is complicated.  

Ikhide R. Ikheloa is an arts critic, writer and journalist. He can be reached at xokigbo@yahoo.com


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