Facebook can do you no good

Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014
FACEBOOK: Friend or foe?

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It's 2024 and my daughter comes home from high school, runs through the door and asks if she can use the computer.

I ask what she want to use it for and she says she want to set up a Facebook page. 

She knows how I feel about that website.

"But DAAAAAD, all my friends have had one for ages and I really want one. Daaaaad! I can't keep in touch with everyone!"

I have felt immense dread about this approaching day for some time, now it's here. You've a lot to answer for Mark Zuckerberg.

While enjoying a few quiets with my closest friends one Friday evening, an animated discussion began about the merits of Facebook and social media in general. These particular friends were well aware of my dislike for said website - a rather strong dislike - and proceeded to argue in its favour.

I then stated I was going to put together an article about my problem with Facebook and why I believe it to be evil. My friends advised that I'd get "absolutely slammed" in a mob-like response from the Facebook-loving public - there are over 1 billion of them after all.

In a quick search online for other such opinions, I found a surprisingly limited response. There is the odd opinion piece from people who believe Facebook is evil for its addictive nature. The most common theme though is that Facebook as a company is evil as it doesn't care about its users, other than to make money off them via selling their personal information to corporations in order to make them a marketing statistic.

For me, the dangers of Facebook lie much closer to home. Here's why:

1. It's narcissistic in the extreme. I understand not everyone on it posts photos and statements about what they're doing every five to 30 minutes, but millions do.

Even if you aren't an obsessive poster, what exactly are you looking to show with those shots of your night out? You want positive reinforcement right? You want people to look and say they wish they were there. Correct?

2. It's the perfect hiding place. This is my scariest and biggest concern. People will say 10 times more than they'd ever say to someone in person via Facebook.

I've seen umpteen examples of bullying, from all ages that have seriously damaged people's lives.

Yes, there are other mediums, yes, you can email someone the same thing, but social media has created a whole new generation of nasty bullying that wasn't there before. The audience is vast - almost unlimited - and the potential for damage is far greater than on any other medium.

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This is a key point - there has always been and always will be bullying - but it is the level of bullying that Facebook and social media in general allows that scares me most.

3. It creates complete social isolation for some people. Again Facebook, and its fans, will ask how that could possibly be, given you have so many friends online and it keeps you in touch with all of them? Put simply, if you spend all night in your room on your Facebook page, or are constantly checking it on your mobile when you are actually out with other people, you not being social at all, are you? In fact, you're being the complete opposite - a Facebook hermit.

4. It brainwashes people. A statement which could be seen as extreme but the fervent argument that arises when I criticise Facebook is often how could a website that lets people see photos of relatives or people on the other side of the world be bad? How could it be bad if it helps people keep in touch?

I just wonder what we were doing prior to Facebook. Oh that's right, we were picking up the phone, sending photos by email, by post or even by pxt. 

There are many other avenues to keep in contact with your loved ones which have been around forever and remain just as effective. It's not Facebook that's made it wonderful to share these things with others - it is the sharing itself.

Facebook has become such a gargantuan force of a media machine, that it is in the public's conversations every day. It is covered by other media every day and makes billions of dollars in revenue. I am reminded of its presence every day despite my utter disdain for the product and never having an account of my own.

As a result of this, I find myself hoping that the next article about Facebook will be about its downfall, that it is finally going under, that the world has finally woken up to the fact it will do them no good whatsoever. 

My daughter can make her own choices regarding Facebook when she's old enough, but for now I'm glad I have time to influence otherwise.

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- Stuff


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