Dear Christian Hernandez,
I have noticed that you have listed the assumed reasons of Turkish people’s love of Facebook. I wish I had the whole transcript of your speech. However, I have to use this lousy portal page to analyze your words.
According to this news report, you have indicated that the reason behind Facebook’s popularity in Turkey is “Turks are warm people who love sharing”. The average “Friends” number of the world is 130, which is quite below the Turkish average. The reason, according to you, for that is “Turks have strong friendships”. And more conceptual interpretation of Facebook’s popularity according to your speech “may be the coffeehouse and conversation culture”.
You may be at the top of your career, but you are wrong, man. Totally wrong.
First of all, let’s put something straight: Generalizations are only valid in marketing and politics. You are making a generalization, and I am going to reply with another. However, all the readers of this post, please keep in mind that I am totally against generalizations and I am basing my arguments on the patterns I have detected during my Facebook experience. There are of course exceptions to what I state.
Why do Turks love Facebook? It is not because they “love sharing” but it is because they love dominating. Facebook is a great remedy to some people’s unstoppable desire to culturally and politically dominate. “You are not listening to quality music, listen to this.” “You are not voting correct, hear what I brag” For example, they love sharing a video on the upcoming elections while they are at the beach with their laptops. This year, the Headquarters of “No” campaign for the referendum was Cesme, a holiday paradise in Turkey. People asked for a “No” from the “educated” ones on Facebook. The “Yes” campaign also utilized Facebook—along with other, more realistic and effective media like talking to people, knocking on their doors, proposing concrete solutions. Turkish people do not share to multiply their joy, they aspire to influence, and preferably to dominate.
Secondly, yes, Facebook is popular because people like talking—but not with each other, behind others’ back! The main reason for Facebook’s popularity is the joy of gossiping. Facebook pages are not viewed alone, they are like TV shows, watched with friends and family. True story: A 50 year-old woman based her comments on another’s kids Morocco travel from the information her daughters acquired for her on Facebook. “We have seen on Facebook that you bought a new car.” “My daughter Pelin showed me that your son has a new girlfriend.” The list goes on not to a direction of that genuine coffeehouse culture—but rather to a gossip-crowded public sphere.
Also that number of friends… With this urge to dominate and gossip, people just friend you. They, at least in my case, attempt to friend me despite my continuous social and electronic rejections. There are also those who show off with the number of their friends. Some family bonds are induced to “friendship” in Facebook realm. Connected to the previous paragraph, people friend you not because they want to keep in touch but to gossip about you. Indeed, this interest is usually mutual. Therefore, we are under the inflation of friends. (Remember the Green Inflation Monster in 90s? It just came to my mind, it was a prominent figure, I miss him.)
Anyway Mr. Hernandez, now that you have seen the real reasons, you can modify this speech of yours. But never stop greasing the Turkish users. They will be your defenders when your site gets banned along with thousands of other web sites.
Rest in Peace Adorno and Horkheimer! Once, in their inspiring article, they have enlightened us about the overwhelming dictatorship of the mass culture. We would become its subjects as long as we kept ourselves inside the culture industry’s consumption territory. Many words have been written after them, rebutting or supporting. I am going to talk about something else, keeping in mind the Frankfurt School’s warning. Our subject today is the dictatorship of the series.
Internet has changed our lives profoundly and this is the best cliché since whenever. Considering our attachment to virtual media, it is dully true. The advancement of streaming technology and the high speed connection have made almost every TV series available online. You can log on any website, containing the episodes of TV series even if they were broadcast years ago. The webmasters do their best for us. Wonderful torrent technology or other file sharing systems are the lovely supporters of this availability. Thus, any TV series, either you have watched them or not, are available. You are not obliged to own a TV any more. You do not have to wait for the time that it’s broadcast, you do not have to invest a fortune to DVDs (if you don’t believe in Intellectual Property Rights or can’t afford that luxury), and all you have to do is click and watch.
This brings the omnipresence of a dictatorship. The rule of dictators is usually typical in their countries: They have a massive state (Internet), an obeisant population (Look at the counters of these TV series websites!), oppressed minorities (those still haven’t picked up a popular TV series and can’t adhere into daily conversations), powerful defense forces (in Turkish case, Internet sites are constantly censured and they find a way to bypass the legalized electronic obstacles), mottos (“Respect to effort” : Emeğe Saygı) and so on. TV series are everywhere and once you are under their influence, they get more powerful.
Firstly, you devote a lot of time into that passion. Even if you are under great pressure of exams, deadlines, responsibilities; you always have time to watch one or two episodes while eating, drinking, making the dishes, doing the laundry, even running in the gym. The TV series parties are very popular among college students: When a new episode is on TV or Internet, friends gather in front of a screen to watch and make instant comments about the love affair or mystic island. People shout at the character that cheats her husband, laugh at the stupid girl desperately in love with her childhood friend, and cry for the misery of a family who literally lost everything but their physical existence, all together. TV series are time absorbing and freshly socializing.
There is also the psychological effect: This dictatorship produces a new breed: “The Carries, Teds, Rosses Among Us.” The CTRAU are a group of people who identify themselves with the TV characters so much that theylose their own identity from time to time and actually become these characters. Their lack of reality is so grave that they officially declare: “I am so Carrie today, I need new shoes.” “Well, I found love just like Ted did.” “Oh, I am such a looser of a Ross-kind.” Wake up people! You just need to spend money on shoes, or just fall in love and believe that she is the one or just be yourself in your existential crisis. You don’t need to cover yourself with another identity. But, the dictatorship does not listen to your needs; it just forces its commonalities over you.
As long as we watch that religiously these TV series, we will go on being the lovely subjects of the dictatorship. It is not too bad if we identify ourselves with the New Yorker, mid-class people. The problem is what if when we identify ourselves with the members of Sopranos? Isn’t it already obvious that people have been learning how to punch “the politically other” since the first broadcast of “Kurtlar Vadisi”?
Once again, rest in peace Adorno and Horkheimer! We are just “mass”ed up, and a new episode is on every day!