After Facebook acquired Friendfeed today, some Friendfeed users are bemoaning the fact, some are excited about what the acquisition means, and some are angry. Par for the course I guess when something like this happens. As far as I’m concerned, what Friendfeed turns into or if it just gets shut down isn’t really a concern. Anyone banking on any of these services to be around for a long period of time should be banking on something else. That said, I do enjoy Friendfeed as a service and will miss it if it disappears, which I think is more than likely. Who knows what will happen here and while emotions are flaring, it is too early to know what will come of this.
But that’s not what this post is about. Good friend, Newsganger, and ace blogger, Francine Hardaway made this comment in a Friendfeed post about those who were upset by the deal.
She’s right on all counts. But the thing that got me thinking (and others-Alex Scoble is hot about this) is the “this is business” line. Does “this is business” or “it’s only business” really mean that those who are, or perceive themselves to be, on the short side of a deal should just swallow what’s going on? Again, I’m not talking specifically about Facefeed or whatever it will be called here, I’m probing my own thoughts about a larger issue.
I think organized crime uses “it’s only business” when they take someone down. I think insurance, banking, and other goblins of greed say it all the time when they are foreclosing on someone or kicking them off the insurance rolls. Those who have been fired have probably heard it as well.
But in my book, “it’s just business” is simply a shield that humans hide behind when they make choices that are going to negatively affect other humans. It has become an accepted absolution of sins, and a convenient mind trick we play on ourselves to deny or disavow any human motivation that led to the choice. There’s an equivalent in saying “it’s just politics.” Both phrases are supposed to have a narcotic affect to make us forget the human factor and somehow forgive it. I’m guessing the current health care debate has plenty of folks saying either or both who are trying to keep the status quo alive.
But here’s the thing. Business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Without the human factor it doesn’t exist at all. As a species we don’t want to believe we’re capable of hurting other humans by our actions. We’ll most of us don’t. So, we hide behind the words and the concept that somebody bettered themselves with money or whatever by making a choice that takes advantage of others.
I’m not picking on Francine when I write this, just using her as an example. I’ve followed her blogging about her personal travails with a mortgage company and follow her ardent and excellent blogging about the health care debate. I’m guessing if the companies behind her mortgage woes told her they were sorry, but it was just business she’d have been supremely upset. I’m guessing she’ll be equally upset if she comes out on the losing side of the health care debate. Just business? It only works to hide the wounds of the damaged soul who makes the choices, not the ones who have to live with the negative consequences of those choices.