In 1943, American botanist and bioethicist, Arthur Galston developed a chemical known as Herbicide Orange consisting of a mixture of equal parts of two herbicides, 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D., in a British military laboratory that would increase the speed and growth of soybeans, allowing them to be grown in sporadic areas around the world where short seasons were prominent. In what he identified as a defoliant effect, Galston was able to successfully deliver these findings to an international agriculture project that was headed by U.S. and British Intelligence. Due to the deforming health and ecological effects of Herbicide Orange, the U.S. and British collaborated to test the effects of the chemical before introducing them to indigenous regions of their respective nations and territories. Little did Galston know, the herbicides were widely-considered by the military as potential applications in warfare similar to Jewish scientist Fritz Haber’s creation of Zyklon B, which became Germany’s preferred method of execution in gas chambers during the Holocaust when it was initially designed to stimulate nitrogen in fertilizer.
During the 1960s, the herbicides laid the groundwork for Agent Orange, in which the chemical was famously labeled, thus entering the Vietnam War. After the British military became the first to employ herbicides on Malaya Peninsula, dismantling communist insurgents and devastating the ecological equilibrium of 3.1 million hectares of tropical forest, it became relatively clear that Agent Orange was not the product of revolution as Galston envisioned it to be. Despite being one of the most subversive synthetics ever developed, Agent Orange was ultimately exploited by means of military combat as opposed to benefiting the fields of botany and agriculture. Unfortunately according to U.S. military reports in the 1960s, high concentrations of Agent Orange would slowly eradicate any living organism from flora to fauna, Galston had grave concerns about its effects on humans. It was supplied to the U.S. government in orange-striped barrels and 77 million liters of Agent Orange were sprayed on Vietnam causing 400,000 deaths and trending disabilities ranging 3 million Vietnamese diagnosed with assorted genetic diseases to 500,000 children delivered with birth defects.
Agent Orange is a famous example of a great invention gone wrong. It was solely produced to enhance the growth of international agriculture and expedite the tedious process of horticulture in poor climates, and yet it became a global threat once the military inappropriately administered the chemical into lethal weaponry. It had great intentions upon Galston’s discovery, but was quickly misused and tampered with when the military became involved with its trial run. While not at the exact magnitude of Agent Orange, Mark Zuckerberg’s renowned social networking service, Facebook, can definitely be characterized as a mammoth apparatus whose innovative splendor and raw contributions have been greatly overshadowed by its growing incapacity and sudden disapproval.
While not the end of everything that is good, Facebook continues to be a very popular form of social media with over approximately 1.3 billion active users, reaching a peak market capitalization of $104 billion, and in many ways transforming into the avenue for antisocialism. As a user of Facebook myself, I find it difficult to remember that at one point of time when it didn’t exist. Although I try my best to push away from social media in general as it has the tendency to become unhealthy and a waste of time, it is very much an illusionary and technological appendage to my life. In fact, it has greatly become such a significant part of our lives that you can immediately learn someone’s life story just by clicking a link to their page, and in the blink of an eye users immediately have access to friends, likes and dislikes, relationship statuses, phone numbers, addresses – everything. This is where Facebook starts to become the very definition of unconventional and problematic. If you haven’t realized it by now, Facebook, since its inception in 2004, has slowly transformed into a platform for narcissism, drama, ignorance, and most importantly poor self-esteem. The negative side effects of Facebook range from so many to so few, that like great achievements of Agent Orange and the Gatling Gun, their insufficiencies and pitfalls sadly outweighs the defining qualities of the social network. Everyone is so quick to judge and hesitate to conform that Facebook quickly becomes dismissed as a soulless realm where people endlessly feed on their own egos.
According to spoken word artist, Prince Ea, in his perspective Facebook has rendered a disconnected society. In a video he released on Facebook and YouTube on Sept. 30, the American poet declares, “Why I Refuse to Let Technology Control Me.” Some harsh truths he shares in his “Can We Auto-correct Humanity” viral video include uncomfortable facts. Did you know that a person spends an accumulated four years of his or her life looking down at their cellphone? That’s a virtual life of pixels on a screen, rather than a real life with real circumstances.
Prince Ea continues to describe how Facebook has become the epitome of an antisocial network due to its emphasis on separation and disconnection of people rather than solidification of human connection. Even when people are in the same room or bedroom, iPhones or iPads are still the center of attention.
“So many ‘I’s, so many ‘selfies,’ not enough ‘U’s and ‘We’s,” informs Ea, who ultimately feels the conception of social network has become time and self-absorbing. The St. Louis native divulges on what society has been reduced to: instead of friendships and real life interactions with loved ones, the idea of self-worth has only become measured by the number of online likes and followers one can attain. The silver lining within this message is quite a simple solution.
After all, his critique in pertinence to the pitfalls of social media, strongly suggest that we as individuals all still have the willpower to take control instead of being controlled ourselves by the enticing qualities of modern technology. With that being said, the irony is that in order to reach the masses, the poet had to use social media to spread his message. Although Prince Ea himself says, “there is no auto-correct for what is happening; everyone has to make the choice to power down their cellphones at the end of the day and take a break from humanity.”
While Ea’s attitude towards Facebook reflects that of many, the social network has plenty of upside that tends to be vastly overlooked. Nowadays we associate Facebook as overly-dramatic and time-consuming and while that may be true hand in hand, the platform has the capability to become a great tool in education and self-prioritization. We easily forget that Facebook was primarily designed to bring people together through mutual interests. We also forget that Facebook is an important instrument for consumer-based marketing and information in which major companies and local businesses can improve their image, profiting, and demographic through posting announcements and updates online. Facebook, in other ways, can also act as a database to scholarly information via through sources on Wikipedia and newsworthy directory sites such as ESPN and CSPAN in which users can obtain updates to trending news and stories. There are so many redeeming qualities to Facebook that go unnoticed, that as an end result it just becomes narrow-minded of us to make quick negative assessments before we can even fully grasp a complete understanding about what something truly is inside and out.
Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with your family and friends that live far away. With instant messaging and even video chat, Facebook is the perfect environment to stay connected. With the status updates, photos, and profile information, it can keep you up to date on the happenings of all of your close ones.
Although critics claim that Facebook isolates people from one another by putting users behind a computer screen, a 2011 article in Psychology Today explains that Facebook allows members to quickly and efficiently exchange information they once held private. For business users, this open communication channel means that customers can ask questions they may feel uncomfortable asking in person or even over the phone. In addition, the nearly real-time communication facilities available on Facebook allow business owners to provide customer service and answer sales questions directly though the social networking service.
Networking has always been a key component of business, but Facebook’s massive social network contains significant resources for people seeking exposure. With just a few keystrokes, business owners can quickly update key contacts, suppliers, investors, and high-value customers. When publicly posting news about a company’s services or offerings, though users should remain aware that competitors can see this information; for this reason, business owners should use discretion with sharing.
Facebook offers a number of benefits to marketing professionals and small business owners alike. With its massive user base, Facebook gives marketers a nearly limitless audience for commercial messages. In addition, Facebook ad tools allow business users to target message delivery using a variety of demographic information that ranges from geographic location to age, relationship status and even sexual preference. Facebook also provides an array of analytical tools that marketers can use to gauge advertising effectiveness and adjust ads as necessary.
Just as business owners must remember that competitors can see publicly posted information, savvy entrepreneurs can use the service’s public communication venues to research offers from other companies. Some organizations use Facebook pages to post newsletters and other updates, and business owners can use this information to keep abreast of competitor activity. In addition, Facebook users frequently share interesting details about their lives with hundreds of friends; business owners can use this information to keep track of popular culture and emerging trends. By staying up to date on customer interests, businesses can adapt to changing environments.
While these are only a small handful of traits compared to the massive serving-size Facebook has to offer, the platform has numerous capabilities that have either gone unaddressed or were simply blackballed from the beginning of the conversation. With that being said, Facebook can be a brilliant asset to a savy business mind or simply an average Joe. The secret to operating Facebook correctly and appropriately is to not become attached to its glimmering pixels. People have the tendency to abuse it functions and therefore cast themselves at the stake when their selfish urges become too much to handle. It must be utilized in moderation in order to reestablish its reputation as well as our own. In conclusion, Facebook offers a world of resources but in order for us to find these elements we must explore the world itself instead of staring aimlessly at your inbox awaiting the crimson notifications.
Drew Mattiola is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RM814408@wcupa.edu.