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The Dark Face of Facebook.

November 1st, 2009 · 17 Comments

The facebook login page boldly states ‘facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life’. Suitably ironic, given that facebook frequently does the opposite.  Of course this is true of any forum where face to face interactions are replaced by a keyboard and screen.

Before I launch into my ‘down on facebook’ campaign, I thought I would provide a little overview of my experience with facebook.

There are various types of facebook users, these include:

Pathologically addicted (PA)
Life is centered around facebook for the PA.  Their entire interaction and the way they communicate with people is entirely facebook driven – no game or application is left untouched not to mention hourly postings of their status for the world to see.  It’s fascinating to know that people prefer Kleenex unique air-weave soft and strong textured toilet paper to the gentle embossed Sorbet toilet paper range.  What a terrific way of getting intimate with a person you have not seen in 20 years.

The Intruder
The Intruder is a lurker waiting for the right moment to crash your status update with a narky remark or outrageous judgment statement.  The Intruder is usually someone you don’t know but a mutual friend of the person you are friends with. The Intruder is like a sniper, it’s an anonymous kill from the distance.

The Surfer
The Surfer is somehow able to balance their facebook transactions with regular life (perhaps it’s because they have a life!).  The Surfer is an occasional and usually sensible user who uses facebook to post a few photos and catch up with a few friends they might not be able to see in person very often.

The Snooper
The Snooper is not a huge contributor to their own or other facebook pages, they sign up just to browse the profiles of other users. A Snooper will always know how much weight Jane put on over summer or that Peter is now gay but you will never know what is happening with them.

Stay at homes
The final category is the stay at homes.  These facebook users are often stay at home  mums (or dads) or house bound people who can’t get human contact the usual way and use facebook as part of their daily social interaction. Facebook provides them with a social outlet where they can bore their friends with tales of little Johnny’s first solid poo.

And before you accuse me of being holier than thou, I have been guilty of being one or more of these at any one time.|

Having said all this, there are many benefits to facebook.  It’s a great way to say happy birthday to someone without actually speaking to them, more importantly it’s a cheap way to offer a gift to your friend – what better way is there to say happy birthday by sending someone an electronic picture of a birthday cake?  Once I tried to lick the icing off my screen just to see if the damn cake was real.

Facebook is not a problem in itself; it’s what people choose to do with their time and how it’s used. Because facebook users are each safely tucked away in their homes and work places, rudeness, aggression and bullying seem to be more acceptable and common than in real life. Normally calm and loving adults can be swiftly reduced to bickering school yard brawlers – an unlikely occurrence if all parties were in a room together. It’s pretty clear that adults are little more than children albeit with more rules and constraints -however these rules and contraints are ignored in the online world.

Yes facebook brings people together but once together it also provides the tools to tear them apart.

Aaron Greenspan argues that he was the original creator of facebook instead of Mark Zuckerberg, Aaron just be thankful that you have not earned many billions of dollars on the backs of the agony and delights of millions of facebook users.

Tags: musings

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Forest Lake // Nov 1, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Kath, this is pretty damn cool! and very true ;-p

    i’m definately an intruder!

    i think the problem with FB is we add people we don’t actually know and have never met and most likely will never meet. this is where it is so easy to comment on something someone has written without feeling any connection to that person…

  • 2 kimbakat3 // Nov 1, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Yes that is also true! Nevertheless the same rules of common courtesy should be extended to those we don’t know… I am just a peace love and mung beans type person deep down!

  • 3 Karyne // Nov 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Great article Katherine!
    I wholeheartedly agree. I have met all of those types on Facebook, and underwent a friends clean-up, deleting mostly intruders and friends-of-friends, resulting in 100 deletions out of the original 250-plus ‘friends’ I had.
    Now, before adding someone, I ask myself whether this person deserves a window into my life, and the right to comment on it. And relationships change, so I keep myself aware of who is on the list, and block or delete some as required.
    Indeed, sad but true, some people cannot abide to ethical behaviours if unwatched. This article is really good on this, and adresses cyberbullying (an actual word!): http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/lessons/secondary/cyberbullying/upload/cyberbullying_ethical_behaviour.pdf

    Keep writing Katherine! Love your articles.

    Karyne

  • 4 kimbakat3 // Nov 1, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks Karyne!!
    In time I think I will activate my account again, firstly I want to get back into my writing as I was finding FB was taking me away from it, and then I will do a clean up. On a positive note some friends of friends/intruders are fine but in future I will not be accepting friendships from people I don’t know and I will ask myself the same questions as you do. In the past I used to accept friend’s recommendations because I felt bad saying no but that will all change. The article you sent through is a good one, I think it addresses the key points of cyberbullying really well.
    PS No facebook withdrawal symptoms yet!

  • 5 Suba // Nov 12, 2009 at 1:40 am

    Love the article….

  • 6 soula // Feb 16, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Yes, I totally agree, love.!!!!!!! How true

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