Plenty of people use Facebook to reconnect with old friends and lost family members. But it seems like far more people fall through the looking-glass of Facebook into Crazyville and emerge as stalkers, obsessives, or cyber-bullies.While some dabble in petty mischief, a fair amount commit outright crimes. Facebook is the new black ski mask of society.
All that said, however, I will admit that Facebook does have a place. For example, it allows me to spy on my children. While most of them don’t have FB, and won’t any time in the forseeable future, there are one or two who do. These adult children got FB for very specific reasons, but me getting FB (which I do not currently have) would allow me to keep better tabs on their lives. I could see, for example, what my son ate for breakfast and what movie he saw with his wife. From time to time there will be certain photos I wish I could see, and it would be easier if I had FB. Frequently online there are things I can’t sign up for, can’t access, and can’t be a part of because I am not a Facebook minion.
I can’t say I don’t feel a small amount of pride when I encounter one of these exclusionary messages. ‘Ha!’ I think. ‘I haven’t capitulated to the man!’ But I can’t pretend it’s wholly convenient. I can’t show support for causes I stand behind. I can’t join certain organizations. I miss out on coupons and online promotions. And no, I’m not willing to create fake Facebook profiles just to take advantage of these things. In general, I am a play-straight-or-don’t-play kind of person.
I know people who have tended toward shady activities. When they were caught in continued shady stuff, they shut down their profiles rather than cleaning up their acts. This is clearly a user issue and not a Facebook problem, but in the age of cyber-shade-on-demand, Facebook is just one more way for sketchy characters to reach out and touch someone. Needless to say, I’m not a fan.
In a tale of all-about-me, I will tell you that there are most certainly people from my past who I absolutely want to avoid. I would do a lot to not have them contact me again, and the few times I have contemplated creating a Facebook profile, I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time figuring out how to bastardize my name so that I could hide from both the people I know I want to avoid and the people I don’t know yet I want to avoid. I know there is no guaranteed way to hide from someone on a mission to discover you, and I know sometimes people stumble across you for no better reason than they either have really good luck or you have really bad. Either way, though, this sours me on the whole Facebook sitch.
I know people who have Facebook and it has added a lot to their lives. For some it becomes a time suck, wasting huge amounts of time which a few have to squander and others can ill afford to lose. Families have been able to stay connected across miles and sometimes continents and others have been torn asunder by Facebook’s toxic ability to give people the illusion of invisibility even though they are not anonymous and not hidden. Children and teens have found sources of inspiration on page after page, yet reports of bullying severe enough to result in suicide are not unheard of. And pages devoted to myriad flavors of self-destruction are everywhere. Sigh.
So is Facebook great or awful? Is it the catapult to launch society blissfully into the next era or the thing that will bury our humanity? Or, like most developments, is it a neutral tool, dependent only on whose hand and intentions it finds itself at the mercy of?
Like the riddle of licking the tootsie pop, the world may never know…
The question for me is: what do you think???