Anti-Social Media

Facebook will be 10 years old in February 2014. 

Has it become an all-consuming behemoth, intruding on people’s privacy and eroding the idea of human contact and friendship?  Or is it a social phenomenon, allowing people to keep in touch with long lost friends, encouraging new friendships and advancing human behaviour?

For me, it falls somewhere between the two.

First up, I don’t have a Facebook account and most probably never will.  Never really felt the need to be honest and I fail to see what improvements to my life having one will make.  But obviously I am in the minority.

For those that do have – and in some cases live their lives through – Facebook, it is the place to be.  Constant, instantaneous, interaction with friends and family is a huge attraction.  Posting photographs of what you are doing at that moment in time a draw.  Being able to catch up with long lost school friends or work colleagues may satiate the curiosity to know we are doing better than they are.  Or to see how well – or otherwise – they have aged.  Facebook allows for all this and more. 

But what about the other side of Facebook?  What about the side that encourages us to post every little private detail about our lives?  Do we really need to show pictures of our every move? Of our kids? Of our dinner?

Despite its good points, Facebook strikes me as a window into every aspect our lives.  Why do we need it?  Living our lives via Facebook is not healthy.  What’s wrong with “real” friends?  You know, the kind you can touch, talk to, laugh with, cry with.  Surely if you were friends with those kids you went to School with 20 years ago, you’d still be in touch? 

And it’s not just people.  More and more companies are using Facebook to promote themselves, to inform people or – more sinisterly – to spy on their staff.  Phoned in sick? Don’t update your profile to show you’ve spent the day in the pub.  Your boss is probably checking.

After 10 years, Facebook has grown immeasurably.  It makes the news.  And shapes it.  Most of the planet is aware of it.  But it has changed and morphed into something that is now too big to regulate.  Like the internet itself, it would appear to be a little out of control and the lack of social responsibility shown by its owners should be addressed.  We already see the site being used for nefarious purposes but there seems to be little to no moderation on the site.

So, happy 10th birthday when it comes Facebook.  You could’ve been something good.  Sadly, you chased the money and lost sight of the potential you had.  I preferred Bebo anyway.

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