Is deleting Facebook a luxury?

In a fascinating talk at the London School of Economics, Catherine De Vries argues that Euroscepticism is a ‘luxury good.’ The countries that are doing economically better are paradoxically the hotbeds of anti-EU sentiments, susceptible to populist propositions that they are being taken advantage of by other countries. By contrast, more fragile economies intuitively grasp the value of remaining in the league.

Thinking about Euroscepticism as a ‘luxury good’ reminded me of Steph Mitesser’s article about #DeleteFacebook. Mitesser reminds those who are economically stable that there is “inherent privilege required to abandon a technology.” There’s a certain degree of personal, material security required to walk away: Facebook and culture writ large are entwined.

It is interesting to think of Brexit and #DeleteFacebook as luxury options. In many ways, of course, they are vastly different from one another, and yet I am fascinated by a kernel of similarity: both campaigns claim that a big, elite — and for most of us, foreign — entity has acquired the ability to dictate aspects of our culture. It is especially interesting as Facebook, with over 2 billion users, is often described as a ‘country’ unto itself. But the fact that Facebook’s ‘nationalism’ is an analogy is the critical distinction: Facebook is a commercial enterprise, a non-state actor.

The fact that one might legitimately conceive of opting out of a particular private company’s platform as a ‘luxury’ demonstrates the seriousness of the situation… globally.

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