Recently Facebook has been receiving a lot of flack. For example, a parliamentary group is accusing it of insufficient control of abusive and threatening comments, (especially those directed towards politicians). Facebook has promised it will be more careful about dealing with this type of comment.
Another criticism is that Facebook can lead to depression, lack of self-esteem and has an ultimately destructive effect on human relationships. This comment comes from a former senior figure in Zuckerberg’s organization and must be taken particularly seriously.
Despite all this, I have been using Facebook since 2007 and shall continue to use it for the following reasons.
1. I like to keep in touch with friends, especially those who live in distant parts of the world. I also like to search out people I haven’t seen for ages, provided, of course, they’re on Facebook!
2. I use Facebook to keep myself informed of events around me and of issues affecting me.
3. I use Facebook to paste links to my latest blog posts.
4. I use Facebook to post information about positive events in my life. Occasionally, there may be moments where something has happened which has deeply affected me negatively but, generally, I like to keep what I post on Facebook light and positive: a lovely sunset, a picture of us at a famous place, seasonal wishes and so forth.
Of course, some people may say that Facebook impinges on privacy regarding both oneself and that of others. I only use ‘friend’ settings but that involves defining who a friend is. Are Facebook friends different from ‘traditional’ friends? Certainly I have Facebook friends I’ve never actually met and I have traditional friends who don’t ‘use’ Facebook. (However, I sometimes wonder why not).
Every now and then I sift through Facebook friends and block those I find counter-productive but then I do the same with friends in the real world. After all, someone who has more than five real friends is a lucky person indeed! Concentrate on the few who really mean something to you rather than the hundreds of flatterers and false people who pretend to be genuine.
Having said this, I can see that Facebook can lead to depression. Why does that friend have so many more ‘likes’ than me? Why is that person always posting fabulous pictures from one exotic holiday location to another? Is it to make one jealous?
Jealousy and envy are cardinal sins and are the cause of the vast majority of the world’s woes and the major destroyers, together with ignorance, of social relationships. It’s not facebook that is destructive: its the way it’s used, interpreted and misinterpreted.
I have been trolled, stalked and abused on Facebook by a particularly nasty character. Of course, I’ve blocked him but his comments before I blocked him still remain to upset me on Facebook.
That incident leads to another point: if you are hurt by someone in ‘real’ life it’s possible to avoid them and if you meet them it’s possible to patch things up or declare that you don’t want to know them anymore. The trouble with Facebook is that if you block or are blocked by someone explanations are unnecessary and unforthcoming. And that is, in my opinion, really bad because humans need explanations for actions taken.
At the moment the Bagni di Lucca group Facebook page in Italian is being rocked by virulent comments regarding its proloco tourist section. It does not make for pleasant reading…
A difficult situation occurs when one suddenly discovers that a supposedly close Facebook friend includes one’s most antisympathetic characters among their Facebook friends and posts photos together with them. This can happen quite often in facebook and can be very upsetting.
In the end, I feel it is a question of having the technology but not the evolutionary process of being able to understand and use it properly. It’s rather like being one of the first victorians on a steam train and wondering how one could sit in a carriage travelling at a speed so much higher than that of a horse and survive!