don’t Facebook. Is it a verb, to facebook? I’m not sure. Whatever the case, I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s good I don’t given the potential harms it allegedly causes. One article, for instance, stated that it can “shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centred.” I can understand the argument the article makes about “computer games and faced-paced TV shows” and how they play a factor but Facebook….? Even though I don’t use it (and have no intentions of doing so) I have to admit that it doesn’t seem that bad.
Those that I know that are on it (and it honestly seems like everyone is except for me: priests, monks, even bishops) are doing nothing, it seems, but exchanging short messages back and forth. Even though it might not be for me, I can’t quite see anything wrong – much less dangerous – about it.
One good point the article makes is a quote from a neuroscientist: ‘I often wonder whether real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitized and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf.’
Some weeks back I went shopping. It was after Christmas which meant there were rows and rows of cars. So I parked in the back and as I was walking to the store I noticed a young man walking ahead of me. He took out his cell phone and started talking to someone. It got me to thinking: did he really have an important phone call to make or was it just an excuse to do something to avoid eye contact with fellow shoppers? When one is out somewhere in public, especially alone, the easiest thing seems to be to grab your cell phone and find someone to talk to, keep you company. It’s certainly easier than having to, God forbid, end up talking to a total stranger. No thanks, we have our group of friends we are comfortable with and no room, or maybe no desire, to meet new ones.
Even the Pope has an opinion on this. He was quoted warning that “obsessive” virtual socializing can isolate people from real interaction and deepen the digital divide by excluding those already marginalized. Furthermore, he urged “producers to ensure that the content respects human dignity and the ‘goodness and intimacy of human sexuality.'” (One wonders if the ‘producers’ really care what the Pope has to say.)
Anyway, the question is: will doing away with Facebook help any? At this point, after all the video games and other technological contraptions, I’m afraid not. Then again, what if we were to do away with it? (For the betterment of mankind, that is.) Would it really matter that people can’t send silly little messages back and forth to friends. Friends, by the way, who live all over the world. If Facebook is the modern day Malt Shop where you go to hang out and meet up with your friends, is there something socially or morally wrong with that? Let’s face it, the world is getting larger and larger. Friends we grew up with, went to school or church or played in the neighborhood with as kids, are now contacting us on Facebook from Chicago or Atlanta or Texas. They want to stay in touch and now, with the press of a button, they actually can.
Hence the irony in all of this. For, I agree with the article and all it’s social concerns but only if they are geared at children. I find it funny that more and more adults are facebooking, let’s call it. And more and more that I talk to say the same thing: When they first heard about it, they thought it was for kids, teenagers, but then they somehow signed up and eventually got hooked. They’ve stayed in touch with people they haven’t seen for years and years. Old friends found them and “befriended” (or re-friended) them. If they were to stop facebooking they would once again lose touch with old friends.
Alas, despite the harmlessness I find in it, I still don’t facebook. My wife likes to respond to that with a quick: “Yet!”