Did Mr Zuckerberg reach peak smiley face in 2017? In June that year, as Facebook reached 2billion users, Mr Z compared his company to a church.
He said that Facebook could ‘fill the gap left in people’s lives left by the decline in churches, as well as other organisations’ and that ‘a lot of people now need to find a sense of support and purpose somewhere else’.
It got worse.
He talked of the world ‘being a little brighter now’, and how such a community – also termed ‘meaningful communities’ – needs ‘great leaders’, like a ‘pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation’.
It takes your breath away, doesn’t it?
While the scale of this strange combination of irony-deafness and messianic self-aggrandisement impresses, it also distances.
Mr Z feels like an extreme case.
And we may miss parallel behaviour in our own organisations.
As the current revelations around Cambridge Analytica, data scraping, and betrayal of privacy on a galactic scale unfold, it’s worth looking at where hypocrisy turns into cheating. And betrayal.
Belonging to a church, an organization, a group, a community involves at some level, a contract. The members are offering something and expecting something in return, even though it is almost never made explicit, and may involve an exchange of the measurable for the emotional.
Mr Z and his Fakebook company were apparently offering the means to community and to belonging.
They were apparently taking in exchange demographic and pychographic details of the community members and selling them to known third parties.
It’s a workable contract isn’t it?
But we now know the degree to which this was not the actual exchange.
In series of self-exculpatory feats of post-rationalisation, Mr Z has made arguments involving ‘best intentions’, and ‘honest error’.
The same points have been made by Boards who have failed, by Directors of badly implemented change programmes, by management bodies in so many organisations.
When unspoken contracts have been broken, new honest contracts are needed.
None of us will stay if we think the pastor at the cathedral has been cheating.