Mat Honan’s concept is interesting, and his piece is well-written and amusing. What would have happened had he “liked” everything on Facebook for another 48 hours? Had his News Feed already evolved into some twisted climax community of corporations and special interests — a relative stasis? Or was Facebook only getting started? Probably not the first thing.
Perhaps the degradation of Honan’s mental health would have prevented him from going much further. He said 48 hours was all that he could tolerate; how long would it have been before the dread of hitting “like” filled him to the point of abandoning Facebook — and by extension the experiment — altogether? Facebook and the corporations and special interests it boosts appeared more concerned with collecting “likes” and establishing a News Feed presence than they did about giving users a chance to breathe. That’s not surprising, but when a News Feed is overrun with corporate messages and fodder for people at each of the political spectrums, it stands to reason users would be turned off and might begin using Facebook less. “Liking” everything is an extreme example, an accelerant that rapidly makes Facebook less enjoyable. But even for people who “like” only one page or one article (everyone, at some point or another), “bombardment” isn’t too strong a word to describe what Facebook does next.
Honan writes a story that precisely supports Andy Warhol’s message in the artist’s interview with Art News. Funny how Warhol refers to consumers becoming machines, which essentially is what Honan became for 48 hours. Honan’s News Feed also became more mechanical, more cold and more calculating. What’s interesting (and quite ingenious on the part of Facebook) is that Honan hadn’t simply become a machine that operated in a vacuum. His “likes” took over the News Feeds of his friends, sometimes occupying as much as 70 percent of a feed, according to the piece. Honan had become a recruiting mechanism, a machine to create more machines.