Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Facebook scares the hell out of me. And it's not really because of the whole "It's a CIA front" thing either. It's more because of what it does to people.

Sure, there's the inherent danger of people throwing out stuff online that should really be filed under "too much information." This is the stuff that usually gets all the mainstream publicity. You hear about marriages ending because something gets posted about an affair or some dude losing his job because there was a revelation that he was running hookers and coke on the side. That's what you hear about, but it doesn't seem to be the most damaging thing overall, simply because most people are smart enough to keep their adultery and drug-running out of a public/quasi-public forum.

The real damage takes place in one of two areas. First, there's the thing where items like the above aren't really happening, but someone with malice decides to destroy a person and uses Facebook as the grindstone of the rumor mill. This could be anything from personal "he's cheating on you" sorts of things to the commercial "I think ______'s business stinks" types of comments. Having seen both of these phenomenon destroy people and businesses, it almost seems like Facebook is an occasion of sin for a lot of folks.

Scripture has a lot of things in it about keeping your mouth shut. The whole third chapter of James, if you're looking for an example. That all seems to go out of the window when someone is posting to their Wall.

Second, and perhaps even more subtle and deadly than the first, is how Facebook provides an opiate for one's pride. Because one can broadcast one's thoughts to their bazillion friends all at once, they seem to actually begin thinking that their opinions and experiences are of much greater weight than they truly are. This is most evidenced by the individuals who provide an almost minute-by-minute chronology of their day.

"I'm awake."
"Going to the shower."
"Getting dressed."
"Eating Cheerios."
"Going to the can."

I don't think they would be broadcasting these things unless they really thought someone cared.

On top of that, there are the tidbits posted as though they are some sort of wisdom that others then chime in to "Like" which seems to lead to a self-identification as some sort of Facebook Prophet. The ego-inflation that occurs, once activated, proceeds at an exponential rate to the point where a person begins to believe that they are far more important than reality insists.

"Throwback, you hypocrite. You have a blog. You're airing your stuff to the universe for people to read. It's the same thing as Facebook."

I concede that maybe this is true. However, and this may be my pride speaking, I don't find them to be the same thing. Most of my posts here are about my being wrong or frustrated about things. I readily admit that I am neither theologian, philosopher, or any other sort of guy that people should pay attention to. Most importantly, I am not sending open invites to all of my friends and possibly getting angry with them for not "friending" me back. This is a limited forum that I have linked to from other sites a very few times over these years of posting and then only because people on those sites had previously expressed interest either by email or other request. If I'm wrong, I'm happy to accept the criticism for being so, so feel free to fire away.

Facebook still scares me.


haskovec said...

I think a blog can be used the same way for pride as facebook and I think facebook can be used not as a source of pride but just as a means to keep in contact with family and friends (which is how my wife and I use it).

I think the minute micro updates you mention are even more common on twitter. But I will admit I am very strict on permissions on my facebook and don't post anything publicly, but it is astounding the things that people put out there to public (ie readable by strangers).

As a side note this blog may benefit from a facebook page. Unum Sanctum Catholicum uses theirs to notify their fans of new posts (you can get plugins to do that automatically). It is also a good way to promote the blog and get the message out there.

Tancred said...

Popin' ain't easy mang!

Good thoughts.

Throwback said...

I haven't really been exposed to Twitter, but to the limited extent I understand it, I can see how it would be worse.

I'm resisting a Facebook/Twitter outlet. Boniface can get away with it at Unam Sanctam because he's better at this than me. I'm not sure I could make it work.

Tancred: Word, yo.

Paige said...

I find Facebook to be a problem for me because, since I have had my reversion, I tend to get my hackles up now over the callous things that my friends post. In real life, we could have a decent discussion about how there really were women present at the HHS mandate hearing and how "I Stand With Planned Parenthood" kind of makes me want to either punch someone or vomit or both, in that order. But on Facebook it's all too easy to hide behind things and just say whatever you want. Which inevitably get misconstrued.