For years now I have been encouraged, dared and downright harassed to join Facebook. On occasion, I get an invitation to be a “friend” and each time I refuse. At first, I had specific reasons for not joining, which I will explain, but then it almost became a challenge for people to see who could talk me into this social phenomenon, so I stood my ground to be stubborn. The truth has a few layers.
First, the number of truly close friends I have, I can count on one hand. I am friendly and have great connections with many people, but those who I share all the little secrets of life with are very few. So who would I really “connect” with through Facebook? The most compelling argument I hear, and one that I am sure is true, is that it gives you an opportunity to find and connect with family, especially those who live in other states. Well, my family is close and we know about each other through either the family grapevine or we actually speak to each other on the phone. Plus, if we knew every detail, what would we talk about at holidays?
Often, I hear the reason I should join is to connect to friends and old schoolmates. Ha! I hated school and worked hard to earn enough credits to graduate early so I could get on with my life. I have one, yes you heard me, one friend from high school, and she is still on my short list of true friends today. Again, if I want to communicate with her, I call or email her.
The only reason I think Facebook has value is for advocacy or marketing. What better way can you reach mass quantities of people with your message than to post a message on Facebook? But then again, if there were not 600 million users for social reasons, who would get the message? Ah, the double-edged sword.
So now the reason I think Facebook is the downfall of society – from what I have seen or heard there are people who post their every movement in the day (i.e. “I’m folding laundry” or “I’m stuck in traffic”). What makes you think that you are so special that we give a darn what you are doing every second? On the other hand, I have been with a co-worker searching Facebook, and I have to admit it can be addicting clicking on a “friend” and seeing a “friend” that you also know. But then I felt that it was voyeuristic looking in on the lives of others and they have no idea.
Which brings me to my next concern. How many pictures of children and loved ones are posted? I know you can make some of it private and “invitation only”, but how many people really limit who they allow to be their friend? Remember those old high school buddies or even just acquaintances? What is the criterion for allowing these people into your Facebook life? Now they know everything about you and your children, and just because they were the captain of the football team, how can you be sure they are not creeps now? Remember, you posted where your kids go to school, when and where you are going on vacation, where you live…
Finally, I have seen Facebook used as a vehicle for hateful messages, bullying and family bickering. Whether the message is hateful or loving, how about you communicate directly with the person you are speaking about or to? I think that as a society, a family, a spouse, a mother or a child, overall, we have poor communication skills. Now we have a tool that condones and promotes indirect communication, and that makes me sad. I have also known couples who spend so much time social networking that they forget about their own household. Think about it…a married woman works full time and has two kids. She prepares dinner, cleans up the dishes, gets her kids tucked in and then turns on Facebook to communicate with “friends” until bedtime. Where in that time is she connecting with her husband?
In the past couple of weeks we heard of U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner using Twitter (don’t get me started) to send a picture of his genitals to a woman that he connected with on…guess where…Facebook. I get that people are behind this behavior and must take responsibility for their actions, but without Facebook, would it be so easy to be such an ass?