Books written by Ray Sullivan

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Deer Hunter - Facebook Style

In the classic 1978 Vietnam drama, The Deer Hunter, there is a tense scene where Robert De Niro is playing Russian Roulette with a Vietnamese man for money.  Each one takes turns to spin the barrel of a six shooter, put it to his head and pulls the trigger.  Cash for the winner, sudden death for the other.

It's a game that doesn't stack up logically.  OK, every spin means the odds are as good as the previous spin, which by definition means it was a good one, but they aren't that good to start with.  Each time you play you get a five in six chance of living and a one in six of decorating the wall with your brains.

It's probably the adrenaline rush that makes some people have a go at the game - research is a little patchy because winners probably think they were always going to win and losers - well they tend to be a little quiet about the subject.  Ironically 1978 is the year a rock star, Terry Kath of the band Chicago, is believed to have killed himself playing Russian Roulette although contemporary reports suggest he was the only player. His last words were 'Don't worry, it isn't loaded'.  Obviously he was wrong.

Playing with guns is a dangerous game, probably as dangerous as they come, mainly because the stakes are the highest anyone can offer.  Now it seems there is a close second.

It seems an App on Facebook has been giving players the chance to risk their Social Networking profile.  They spin a six gun dial and have a one in six chance of losing their profile, wiped of the virtual world in which they live.  Presumably the idea of the game is to challenge other players and to rotate the game until someone gets their profile, all their posts, those embarrassing photos taken at the works do and anything else they have ever had on Facebook wiped, forever.  Dashed against their wall, no doubt.

I say apparently because Facebook have blocked the App as it provides a 'negative user experience'.  Or loses a customer, perhaps.  Maybe I'm being a little cynical.

Anyway, Facebook have cited a raft of policies - who would have thought something like Facebook would boil down to a set of rules? - and apparently they have policies that prevent anything that might result in an account being removed from their advertisers.

Contrast this with You Tube which was forced to take suicide demonstration videos off its site by Russian regulators, who were concerned that the videos would encourage young people to follow the lead.  Some see this as censorship and they include You Tube who approached the Russian courts and asked for the ban to be lifted, unsuccessfully it seems.  They argued that the videos involved only provided instructions on how to fake wounds using make up and razor blades.  Yep, I've just double checked that last statement.  I think without the final two words I'd have been with them.  And yes, it is censorship and I think this is a big issue that needs to be tackled head on in the internet/social network era.  It may be a subject for a future posting, but not this one.

However I find myself pondering the juxtaposition of one internet giant arguing about being allowed to show suicide techniques to real people who could follow suit and another blocking virtual suicide of a social network profile.  Perhaps I'm the wrong person to comment on this; I've generally fond memories of most of my life - the first three years are not too clear, but the rest has been good - and I don't really care that much about anything more than two days old on my Facebook wall.  I admit I'm not drawn to the Facebook App though, which is just as well as it's blocked, but if I lost my FB account I probably wouldn't lose too much sleep.  After all, it's not like it's forever.  Is it?

Perhaps You Tube would side with Facebook on the subject of censoring suicide if it was pointed out that people who die at their own hands don't provide marketing opportunities to internet advertisers anymore.  Maybe then they'd reconsider?

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