By digitizing much of the frivolous banality in our lives that currently takes expensive physical infrastructure, gasoline and tens of millions of jobs to sustain, Facebook is showing us the true value of the fading American industrial economy itself. When you consider that the Facebook universe (the main company and everything else that depends on it, like Zynga games and bloggers who promote their wares on Facebook in order to drive traffic to Amazon via affiliate links) of perhaps $200 to $500 billion dollars is supplying a portion of our demand for frivolous banality that used to take several trillion dollars to supply before, you realize that you’re getting a huge bargain.

Cheap frivolity for all, just as we got cheap grain for all and cheap transportation for all in earlier revolutions.

Venkatesh Rao

Two points about this.

Point one: “low-calorie guilt-free consumerism” is only appealing if you think that consumerism (or “frivolity,” as Rao trivializes it) has no more fundamental problems than that it’s expensive. Personally, I’m inclined to think that consumerism is corrosive and unhealthy even if it were totally free from cost, economic and environmental.

Point two: anybody who’s thinking hard about sustainability knows that cheap grain and cheap transportation aren’t unmixed blessings–they may not even be blessings at all. So I find it hard to believe that cheap frivolity will be any different.

2018 UPDATE: suspect I was right.