Facebook Ain’t So Bad
Today I was on my way grocery-shopping, when I saw a couple coming my way on the street. The guy wore a shirt that said: “I don’t need FACEBOOK or TWITTER, I have a LIFE.” It made me want to go over, pat him on the head and ask his girlfriend just where she found such an adorable little neo-luddite.
Unfortunately, he’s not alone: Who doesn’t know one of those people who patently refuse to sign up on facebook/twitter/MySpace/Bebo/whatever? Incidentally, those are exactly the people who refused to buy a mobile phone until years after everyone else had one. Of course they gave in after even they realized it was more than just a passing trend and hey, these are actually kinda handy. But so far, I have never seen anyone actually advertising his Luddism on a shirt. It instantly reminded me of this little xkcd-gem:
It dumbfounds me that some people seriously have a problem understanding that a technology in itself cannot be good or bad; that a technology does not lead to any effects, but that it is how it’s applied that makes the difference between good and bad consequences. The obvious example is nuclear energy, with the Atomic Bomb on the one hand and the promise of Fusion Power on the other. If you give me a knife, I can use it to slaughter people or to carve a statue – neither would be the knife’s fault or merit. And I’m sorry, but the same thing holds true for social media. Yes, there are people wasting their time and money on silly games like “Treasure Island” or “Mafia Wars”. Does that make facebook bad? No. Just block the damn application and get on with your life, it’s one bloody click. Less effort than printing a silly shirt to express your childish opposition to technology. I never had a problem with facebook or twitter, never got sucked into it to an amount that was detrimental in any way to my “real” social life. This is the case for most people. I use it as a more sophisticated eMail program to keep in touch with friends on the other side of the world, I use it to get my information on politics and other topics by subscribing to the news-services I trust, I use it to promote this blog, and I use it for instant messaging that often saves me the trouble and cost of a phone call. This is the situation for most people. Before facebook, I had to check at least 15 individual webpages and run two instant-messaging programs to do all that. Now I get all in one, and I cannot detect any change for the worse. It’s convenient, so why would I refuse to use it? As I see it, a concern for data security is the only argument against social networking that carries any weight at all.
Besides that, all possible detriments are simply due to the incompetence of users. If you cannot resist the addictiveness of an in-browser online game such as “Treasure Island”, then sorry but you’re an idiot, and that’s hardly facebook’s fault.
In the words of Stephen Fry: “Technology is like a mirror. If an idiot looks in, you can hardly expect an apostle to look out.”
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