For those of us who are old enough to remember – MySpace was the place to be on the internet. Loading your page with graphics was reminiscent of moving into a new house, choosing your bedroom and plastering the walls with your favorite posters. People took MySpace very seriously. Carefully chosen videos, pictures and symbols had to exactly capture your essence. And along the bottom right corner was a small area for comments, a place for your friends to stop in and say, “Hi!” – like leaving a note on the door when you’re not home.
And then Facebook appeared. Suddenly, the party had bounced to a new location. It took the “comments” idea from MySpace and ran with it – but it lacked the aesthetics and the personality of MySpace, still, nearly overnight it gained members and grew like wildfire, until it became what we know it is today – a social media empire that can make or break anyone’s reputation, marriage, friendship, even employment. And in some cases of extreme bullying, even their life.
An entity this volatile, this omniscient, this powerful, should not be taken lightly. None of us wants “Big Brother” in our lives and yet Facebook is the Big Brother we welcome into it.
Whenever you fire up Facebook, you step into a ring. Everyone else in the ring are your “friends” – the people who post statuses, and anyone who can read your own status. These statuses might either: a) make you smile b) make you wince c) make you mad d) bore you to tears. Any one of these reactions might get you to comment on said status, which, in turn, sparks more comments, and still more comments until, you realize, most of the sands of your hour – or day – have sifted through Facebook’s fingers.
On the surface, people love Facebook. It connects them with long lost friends, lets them keep in daily touch with current friends, exchange witty, clever, quirky anecdotes, and lets people convey what’s on their minds; anger, frustrations, joy, milestones, appreciation. And for most people, this is all it needs to be. But what about for people who have a hard time controlling their addictions? People who use Facebook as a diary, or a soapbox or confessional? Opening your soul to the masses is never something that should be encouraged. Aside from that, there are a number of reasons why Facebook is detrimental to society in general.
-It makes people lazy.
“I should do the dishes. I should do the laundry. I should make dinner. I need to do homework. I should pick the kids up from school. I need to work on my thesis. I need go to bed because my alarm is going off in two hours.”
-It wastes people’s precious time.
Do you really need to know what your fifth grade companion is having for dinner tonight? Wouldn’t that time be better spent, oh, I don’t know – even watching your own fifth grader play Angry Birds on her iPad?
-It wastes company time.
Something you’ve posted or commented on Facebook is on fire with other comments. You’re steaming mad and continually get back into the ring to argue your point. Meanwhile, emails are left unanswered, phone calls get sent into oblivion (voicemail), and your focus is on virtual, meaningless drama instead of work.
-It’s a stalker’s paradise.
Exes, livid, bored or both, even though they have been blocked or defriended, can, sometimes weasel their way back onto your page. Unless you carefully select each and every friend you let join your Facebook world, this is a danger.
Like watching from the corner or peeking from behind the curtains, people can find out all sorts of juicy tidbits about you, your life, and where you live. Facebook often changes their privacy settings without making it public knowledge. It’s a good idea to consistently check those settings so you’re not telling the world how much you hate your boss or how badly your life sucks after a break up, surgery, losing your job, losing your house… too much information opens the door to leeches and opportunists.
-It’s an exhibitionist’s paradise.
On the flip side, some people choose to use this venue as a way to expose themselves in as many ways as possible. Visually, textually, if you will look, they will show you. Like an assault on the senses, it’s exhausting and sometimes nauseating to watch narcissists at work on Facebook. How many pictures of their face really need to be taken? And, I’ve seen beer bellies before, yours is nothing new.
-It ruins friendships and relationships
Even though, admittedly, Facebook has brought countless numbers of people together, ie; school chums, widowed school chums turned married school chums, parents and children, long lost friends… it has destroyed an equal number of relationships. People use it to flirt, which sometimes leads to cheating. With so many “friends” at your fingertips, people start to feel that the ocean is pretty well stocked with an enormous number of rainbow colored fish, and the one you have with you in your bed is no longer cutting it.
And not only can it ruin personal relationships, it can also cost you your job. Before you even get it! Employers now are not only using social media to promote their brands “Like us on Facebook!” but the same venue by which they are gaining customers, they are weeding out perspective employees. Get drunk last weekend and post the pics? Or maybe you were tagged by friends? Make an extreme right or left wing statement, or post a video that might be… slightly (or more than slightly) offensive? It’s kind of like when you were a kid and you drew pictures for your teacher, anything other than kittens and unicorns will get you sent to the school psychologist. Employers (generally) don’t want to deal with edgy, or offensive or march-to-your-own-beat drummers. They are looking for reasons to not interview you. And in today’s economy, why would you shoot yourself in the foot?
Realistically, Facebook shouldn’t be blamed for how it’s been used (recklessly) by the vast majority of people. But, like nuclear weapons (also created by man), there is great potential for mass destruction that should not be ignored.