From exposed indiscretions to shallow pseudo-socializing, here are some reasons why Facebook both hurts and helps a technology-driven society.
Please excuse my uncle. He’s still recovering from his lobotomy….
My uncle posted a picture on Facebook with the following caption: These are my brother’s sons. That brother happened to be my father. Here’s the problem: Everyone knows I’m an only child, and a daughter at that. What my idiot uncle had effectively done was out the fact that my dad had fathered two boys outside of his marriage to my mother. It was an indiscretion we had kept under wraps until that fateful Facebook post.
My uncle did not do this out of spite or revenge. He just wanted his 683 “friends” to meet the nephews he loved dearly. And in so doing, he left my parents to deal with the fallout of that expose.
Are you unhappy? Blame Facebook
A recent study from the University of Michigan came to this conclusion: The more people used Facebook, the less happy they were. An article on the New Yorker website drew attention to research which suggests Facebook increases envy and jealousy.
I decided to conduct an unscientific study and logged into Facebook while in a neutral mood. As I scrolled down the news feed, I see my cousins are enjoying dinner at a favorite restaurant in the hometown I miss dearly. My friends just came back from a vacation I’ll never be able to afford. And a dear friend’s kids are sick for the 25th time this year. I just went from feeling left out and homesick, to feeling poverty-stricken, to wanting to cry over the sick children. Facebook enabled me to blow through an impressive range of negative emotions in under 20 seconds.
Your privacy settings give you false security
I recently went through a lawsuit and had to gather personal information on the defendant. I had subpoenaed his bank records, but the bank would not release the docs to me without his birth date. Enter Facebook. I found the defendant’s Facebook profile through a “friend”. Was it a problem that he had not filled out the “About” section? Not at all! I simply scrolled back on his timeline and found the day when all of his friends and family wished him “Happy Birthday!” Voila! With that birth date, the bank gave me unlimited access to his financial history.
I have no alternatives
As many complaints as I have about Facebook, I consider it a necessary evil. Just like text messaging, Facebook is less intrusive than a phone call. I can check on my friends’ posts and reply to them at my convenience. And most importantly, Facebook tells me when my meddling uncle is vacationing in my area of sunny Southern California. At that point, Facebook becomes my idiot radar and my best friend.