It’s time for We, the People, to destroy Facebook’s overwhelming power — and the parable of the wheat and chessboard reveals that we have power too.
I’m wrapping up my presence on Facebook. This is not because of privacy concerns. I’ve always understood that, when it comes to Facebook, the reason it’s “free” for me to use is because Facebook feeds off of my information.
Instead, I’m quitting Facebook because I’m deeply disturbed by the power that Facebook has come to have in America, especially when it comes to controlling news and imposing its will on America’s political beliefs. No one entity should have that kind of power.
A lot of people have been saying that Congress should break up Facebook or regulate it as a common carrier. Those are good ideas, but at the rate Congress moves, it will still be debating that issue right up until Facebook has ensured that a Democrat candidate wins the 2020 presidency, at which point the issue will vanish.
There’s a different way to destroy Facebook’s power: We, the People, can do something.
We’ve voluntarily affiliated ourselves with Facebook and we can voluntarily leave. That’s what I’m doing on my real-me Facebook. I will survive not seeing pictures of my friends’ children, meals, and travels. Also, I will probably have lower blood pressure not seeing my hard Leftist friends say their hard Leftist things. Most importantly, I will no longer be Facebook’s fool (or do I mean tool?).
I’m switching to MeWe.com, which claims to be all about privacy. I don’t believe that. I know I’ll still be the commodity and that, if enough of us end up on MeWe, then that company will have inherited Facebook’s scary power. For now, though, MeWe is so small I’m not worried . . . yet. I’ll still have a social media platform and I know that the friends who matter will find me there. I had a fine life before social media and I’ll have a fine life after it — and when MeWe, which is Leftist too, starts to aggregate too much power, we’ll cross that bridge as well.
Regarding whether my actions make a difference, I don’t know. I’m only one person. But I’m one person with a little bit of a bully pulpit in the form of this blog. I’m also one person who knows the “Parable of the Wheat and Chessboard.”
A king was facing a life-threatening (or kingdom-threatening) problem. He called for all of his wise men. One, the poorest, managed to come up with a perfect solution. The king, delighted, promised the poor wise man anything he wanted.
The wise man answered, “Oh, great king. I see before you a chessboard. I ask only that on the first day you place one grain of wheat on the first square; on the second day you place two grains of wheat on the second square; on the third day, you place four grains of wheat on the third square, and so on, for 64 days, each day placing on a new square twice as many grains of wheat as you gave me the day before. And that wheat is all that I want.”
The king thought to himself, “For a wise man, he is a fool. I would have given him half a kingdom, and he asks only for a few grains of wheat.”
To the wise man, the king said, “It shall be as you ask.”
As the 64th day neared, the king realized that he could never fulfill his promise. He had already stripped his kingdom of all the wheat available.
I don’t remember where the story went after that. Perhaps the king called in his secret services, raid the office of the wise man’s lawyer looking for evidence of any crime, and locked the wise man away forever. That, after all, is the type of thing despots do. All I know is that the king failed to understand the phenomenon of exponential power.
According to Wikipedia, the grain and chessboard problem works out as follows:
The problem may be solved using simple addition. With 64 squares on a chessboard, if the number of grains doubles on successive squares, then the sum of grains on all 64 squares is: 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + … and so forth for the 64 squares. The total number of grains equals 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 (the 64th Mersenne number), much higher than what most intuitively expect.
On the entire chessboard there would be 264 − 1 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of wheat, weighing about 1,199,000,000,000 metric tons. This is about 1,645 times the global production of wheat in 2014 (729,000,000 metric tons)
Facebook has only about 135,000,000 users. That seems like a lot until you think about the wheat and the chessboard. Think about it: Each of us is a grain of wheat. Alone, we are not intimidating. However, if we can bring our friends over and they bring their friends over and they bring their friends over . . . we can destroy Facebook in a couple of months. That’s the power of We, the People.
You can find me on MeWe as “Bookie Bookworm.” Sign up and ask to be my friend. Then, as one of your last acts of Facebook, tell your friends what you’ve done and why, and see if you can bring some of them over too. When MeWe gets too powerful, as it will, we’ll just play this whole game again.