Zuckerberg, Facebook, and the Dangers of the Monetized Life

This essay from Dissent, “Feminism’s Tipping Point: Who Wins from Leaning In?” by Kate Losse, is a must-read. Losse is a former speechwriter for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Her piece gives a fascinating look into Facebook corporate culture.

Her piece engages the new book Leaning In by Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg argues that women should work more and harder in order to advance themselves and the broader feminist cause. Losse makes a potentially salient point in this essay: that feminism according to Sandberg seems driven by little other than money. Non-monetized life is devalued in the book:

The loser in the Lean In vision of work isn’t one version of feminism or another—other feminist organizations and publications will continue to flourish alongside Lean In, though they may receive less media attention—but uncapitalized, unmonetized life itself. Just as Facebook relies on users to faithfully upload their data to drive site growth, Facebook relies on its employees to devote ever greater time to growing Facebook’s empire.

See this as well:

I decided to leave Facebook because I saw ahead of me, by Zuckerberg’s and Sandberg’s own hands, an unending race of pure ambition, where no amount of money or power is enough and work is forever. While I am not unambitious, this wasn’t my ambition. But Sandberg is betting that for some women, as for herself, the pursuit of corporate power is desirable, and that many women will ramp up their labor ever further in hopes that one day they, too, will be “in.” And whether or not those women make it, the companies they work for will profit by their unceasing labor.

Read Losse’s whole piece.

I won’t comment at length here, but will say three things: 1) Sandberg’s vision of life bodes ill for the family, and in particular women and the children who will not be nurtured and nourished by them. 2) It’s noteworthy that Sandberg feels the need to exhort modern women to own the feminist model. That seems to suggest that modern women have not bought wholeheartedly into the idea that they will be happiest by achieving in the workplace. 3) Losse is entirely right in decrying “monetized life.” Whatever your take on gender roles, our existences are made to be enriched by many different practices, institutions and avocations. To reduce life to work and money-making and careerist success is to rob it of much of its goodness and richness.

Work is good, and brings with it many goods. But it should not displace the family, nor the church. Money is helpful. But as Christians, we must actively do what we can to choose against a money-driven life. There is far greater satisfaction afforded us in Christ and his many, many gifts to us.

(HT: the sharp-eyed Michael Lawrence)

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