Now that Mark Zukerberg is the official god of the online world, he must decide whether he’s going to be a benevolent or indifferent god.
Facebook user and environmentalist Angie Bird is campaigning for Zuckerberg to turn off Facebook for Earth Hour. The twenty-six-year-old Toronto resident set up a Facebook page to publicize her request for the one hour blackout, as she hopes to use the social media site to reach Zuckerberg.
Earth Hour is a green initiative that started in Australia in 2007. The aim is to get people to turn off their TVs and lights and unplug their computers for one hour in order to focus on energy conservation. Last year 128 countries participated in a world-wide effort to think about the health of the planet.
Despite Bird’s sweet small town plea, I doubt Zuckerberg will comply. Not because he’s not concerned about the environment – apparently Facebook uses energy-efficient techniques to power their data centre – but because it’s bad for business.
Though we can’t be sure the twenty-six-year-old multi-billionaire is as apathetic as his character as played by Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network, we can be sure that Zuckerberg is first and foremost a businessman – and a dammed good one at that [Editor’s Note: we still have yet to see just how good!]. And a good businessman knows that while you can gesture to (and even support) social causes, you can never, ever allow those social causes to damage the product or service that your company provides.
Turning off Facebook for one hour would damage Zuckerberg’s service because the service he’s providing is social connection. If – even for a minute (let alone an hour) – Facebook ceases to provide that service, they damage the credibility of their product and rupture consumer trust.
What’s more, if Zuckerberg complies with Bird’s request, he’ll be opening a Pandora’s box, and he can soon expect to hear pleas from other vocal groups and activists seeking his Facebook favor for their cause to save the plants and animals. From that moment on, the Facebook offices will be hearing about every kangaroo crisis in this country, or every insect dying out in that country.
Not only do I know that Zuckerberg won’t listen, I also think it’s silly to ask in the first place; after all isn’t Earth Hour about making the conscious choice to meditate on the earth? Is it really effective to ground people from Facebook as punishment for being a bad environmentalist?
If Earth Hour’s overall initiative is to make people reflect on their energy use, then banning people from the Social Network won’t necessarily achieve this result. I suppose Bird thinks that if Zuckerberg turns off Facebook, then the world will have nothing else to do but think about the Earth. But this of course implies a) that Zuckerberg is a social activist (which he is not, and never claimed to be) and b) that Facebook users can’t think for themselves.
Think about it – if we need Facebook literally blacked out in order to keep us from going on it, then I’d say we have bigger social problems than environmental ones.
While I’m all about green initiatives, I can’t stand the thought that we live in a society so apathetic that we literally need to be grounded from Facebook in order to start caring about the earth.
If Zuckerberg is to remain the stellar businessman that got him where he is today, then he’ll avoid divine intervention at all costs. He’s not trying to be indifferent, Bird, it’s just simply bad for business.
Image via The Toronto Star