On the surface, Facebook may seem like a simple, and useful application for staying connected with your friends and keeping them updated on your life. But there is a devil lurking behind Facebook’s placid facade.
Is Facebook the Devil in disguise? Why?
1. Facebook lowers the productivity of our nation or even that of the world
The hard-working American worker is under siege. The perpetrator? Facebook. Workers pulling all-nighters hunched over their computer screens may just be social networking on Facebook. The problem, in fact, is worse than it first appears. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Facebook may be costing Australian businesses $5 billion per year.
Could Facebook also be the reason for our current economic crisis, massive national debt, and falling GDP? The verdict is still out.
Some may remember that the same arguments were used against electronic mail and instant messaging. Now, they are touted as tools for increasing productivity. I suppose the verdict will be out until the next innovative idea/scapegoat comes along.
2. Facebook exposes our children to smut
Who will protect our children from evil-doers like Facebook, who is constantly shoving smut and inappropriate content into their young, and innocent faces. We are beginning to see a collapse in our society’s moral values as evidenced by the increase in crimes committed by minors. We are indeed at the beginning of the end.
The price of freedom of speech and information is having to deal with things that we may not agree with, may not like, and may not deem appropriate. Smut has been around since time immemorial – before Facebook, before HubPages, before the internet, and before television.
Who will protect the children? Parents, teachers, and other responsible adults in the child’s life. Spend quality time with your child on the internet and direct them towards constructive pursuits; there are many.
3. Facebook disconnects us from the real-world
And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn’t it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.
If you go to Tom’s page, he announces in his Web Feed that he has given up electronic mail as of March 7th, 2007. There will always be people like this who have never used Facebook, and are probably uncomfortable with the notion of the internet.
From my own experiences with Facebook, Hubpages, and others, participating in these online communities actually help with social disconnect issues. For example on Hubpages, many users talk about facing alienation in real life. Sharing their stories, and getting support from an online community, helps with that alienation.
Any technology can be misused. A bad addiction to online communities may alienate a person from the “real-world” and in the worst case, bring about grave, real-world, consequences. Such cases, however, are extremely rare, which is perhaps why they are so news-worthy; like human deaths resulting from dog attacks.
Just because some bad can happen, does not mean we should stop using it. Car accidents happen a lot more frequently, but last time I checked, cars are still in use.
4. Facebook exposes us to stalkers
Facebook is stalker heaven. Remember the ex-boyfriend that never really got over you?; well your every move is now open to him with just a few clicks and a Facebook account.
To share in the benefits of a community, we must share a part of ourselves. If we use sound judgement on what information we publicize, the danger of an online stalking, which is already small to begin with, becomes negligible.
Are we fully protected? No.
Just as we are never fully protected in real life. But that does not mean we should become social hermits. The benefits of belonging to an online community, such as Facebook, often outweigh the dangers.
If you do not feel that is the case, you are free to not participate in Facebook, electronic mail, and the internet in general.
5. Facebook causes us social stress and emotional pain
“It’s turned into this big thing, where if you just start dating someone you have to have this serious discussion: Should we change our Facebook status? Is it too soon? And then if you break up, you have to change your status again and have that pathetic little broken heart next to your name on the (Facebook news) feed. No, thank you.”
~~ [Quote from Facebook member on Canada.com described in Survey: Facebook friends annoying.]
“You’d think that Facebook would be the perfect tool for handling all this. It’s not. For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there’s a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I’d cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, “Am I your friend?” yes or no, this instant, please.”
~~ [Excerpt from How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook by Cory Doctorow, InformationWeek, November 26, 2007]
This New York Times article describes how people endure greater social stress and emotional pain as a result of Facebook.
Many users may feel pressured into accepting “friend invites” from people whom they may not regard as friends. Others are pressured into a popularity contest where they must madly gather as many friends as possible so as not to lose to their peers. And finally, Facebook makes breaking up extremely hard to do.
Facebook users describe in gory detail how losing an ex becomes a public embarrassment because now, it is plastered all over Facebook. To add insult to injury, the victim is tortured with minute-to-minute updates of their ex’s successful social calendar.
I do not know about you, but this really sounds like high school all over again.
Socially awkward situations occur in real life, and so do popularity contests. Facebook is a social tool that may be used in a variety of ways, including those listed above. It is true, that a large social network, like Facebook, may exacerbate some of these awkward and sometimes painful social situations, but it really comes down to how you choose to use it.
For example, users may choose not to publish their “relationship status”. Removing ex’s from your friends list is only a click away and you can always take a vacation from Facebook and join Hubpages.
6. Facebook tracks our personal information and uses it for nefarious purposes
All the information you enter into Facebook, including your name, address, e-mail address, interests, job history, education history, relationship status, and much more may be turned against you and used to profit multi-national conglomerates. You may not realize this but by using Facebook and agreeing to their Terms of Service, you are signing away your identity.
The multi-nationals will monetize your friendships, wreak your life, and who knows what else.
This is an old argument. Information is collected about us whenever we use any online service including search engines such as Google and Yahoo!. In fact, even if we were internet virgins, we would still be tracked.
We may not think about this, but a lot of our personal information is already a matter of public record; including our name, social security number, date of birth, housing history, marriage history, etc. The information may be kept in different government agencies, but companies have developed technology to integrate all this information together and are selling it to those multi-national conglomerates.
With, or without Facebook, “real privacy” is a thing of the past.
Is FaceBook the Devil?
MizB sums it up very well –
“In a few months, we will be commenting on the next “Devil”…but really, lets be honest with ourselves. That “devil” resides in our self indulgence, and not on our computer screens.“
While some of the extreme arguments against Facebook may sometimes seem silly, there is an important underlying issue that we should keep bringing up and keep discussing.
David Brin captures this well in his book, The Transparent Society.
In the Information Age to come, cameras and databases will sprout like crocuses — or weeds — whether we like it or not. Over the long run, we as a people must decide.
Can we stand living exposed to scrutiny… our secrets laid open… if in return we get flashlights of our own, that we can shine on anyone who might do us harm? Even the arrogant and strong?
Or is an illusion of privacy worth any price, even surrendering our own right to pierce the schemes of the powerful?
There are no easy answers, but asking questions can be a good first step.
.~~ [Excerpt from The Transparent Society by David Brin]