Just reading the tragic reports on Music-news.com of the suicide of The Models singer James Freud, who killed himself in his melbourne home after many years fighting alcoholism.
It’s a harrowing enough story on its own merits but I was further disturbed to see a little flag at the top of the news item which offered surfers the opportunity to “Be the first of your friends to like this” by clicking a button marked ‘Like’ with a ‘thumbs up’ symbol on it.
Has our faith in the power of systems totally degraded our sense of decency?
Systems are running our lives. Banks, government, big companies – they all have faith in systems which, supposedly, can handle any eventuality.
We’ve all suffered from them. A good example is the phone tree that doesn’t have an option which covers the thing you want to talk about.
People devise these little systems and then let them loose on us, and we have to try to deal with them. I imagine it’s all part of modern humanity’s conviction that everything can be dealt with by a system, a flow chart, a computer – anything other than a one-to-one relationship with another human being.
‘Be the first of your friends to like this’ is emblematic of the whole process. Some faceless programmer designed that little flag to give us – the users (or more accurately, the used) – the illusion that we’re communicating, taking part in something, being members of a virtual community.
However, that programmer wasn’t thinking about James Freud’s parents or James freud’s friends. in fact, that programmer wasn’t thinking.
There’s no way to like suicide. No way to like famine, no way to like celebrity idiocy or any of the other eventualities that a system like this doesn’t cater for.
I don’t much like systems. Never have.
I like people but, then again, I’m not so keen on the ones who think that systems can handle everything for us.
Systems are inhuman. However hard we might try to make them perfect they will always fall apart when tested by the everyday, mundane requirements of simple people like me.
I didn’t know James Freud but I do know that he and those who loved him should never have to see a button inviting web surfers to ‘like’ his death.
Systems. Don’t get me started.