Facebook – A Downside

In my post on Facebook – A Reason to Love It,  I talked about one of the upsides of Facebook.

I think people who aren’t on Facebook are missing out in a way.  I think it’s a great way to connect with people in an ongoing and meaningful way.  So long as it’s not used to the exclusion of actual personal and face-to-face relationships.  I think it’s a great way for parents to maintain some oversight with their kids.  I think it’s a great way for companies to vet potential employees.

I think the overt abuses of social media are well documented.  Use of social media by kids to bully other kids is well documented.  The tragedy of the suicide of Megan Meier showed us that we must be diligent and responsible in the use of social media by ourselves and by our children.

We need to help our children understand and manage the media to keep them safe and to help them ensure that their profiles are accurate representations of their personas and not just a place to post items and pictures for shock value.

Adults also use Facebook as a way to bully or hurt people.  I don’t think you can blame the media because people who are prone to this sort of behavior will use whatever means they have available to do this sort of thing.

My biggest concern with regard to Facebook is one of privacy.  There are always people out there ready to use people’s information, status updates, and other means to scam people and even steal their identities.  You must always be informed and smart in your use of any technology.

But, the downside of Facebook that I want to talk about is the more subtle downside.  That is, the use of friend requests to hurt others.  A recent app will allow you to find out how many people have ignored, rejected, and deleted you as a Facebook “friend.”  I tend to be a numbers oriented person so I notice when my number of “friends” changes.  I don’t need an app to do that for me.

I noticed when my brother-in-law deleted me.  And I wondered why I was deleted and not my other sisters.  I mentioned in a previous post that I have a sister that will not accept my friend request yet she is friends with all of my children.  When I became friends with her husband (another brother-in-law), she accused me of being inappropriate.  What I saw as an opportunity to get closer, she saw as my way of interfering with her family.  I was ultimately deleted from his list of friends, and I thought that was sad, but completely understandable.

I have also ignored or deleted friends from Facebook.  I tend to ignore requests from my children’s friends unless they are kids with whom I am well acquainted.  And I do not friend request kids (except my own) unless they ask me to or I ask them first if it’s okay.

I decided at one point to delete those people with whom I was not very well acquainted – a friend should be some sort of an actual friend after all.  One of my daughter’s friends wanted to get to 1,000 friends, and he did.  But, I am not in it for the numbers.

I have deleted 3 people who I felt posted stuff that was particularly offensive – not who disagreed with me because I have many friends with whom I disagree – but who consistently used profanity and pornographic and hateful words and images in their postings.  One, interestingly enough, was a minister in a Baptist church.

While we all have our own protocols for who we will allow into our lives, I think this subtle use of ignoring, deleting, and rejecting friends and friend requests is often just another way for people to hurt other people.

Like all social interactions, we are finding our way with the etiquette of it all.  I find the ability to get to know others on a more intimate level to be fascinating and exciting.  Sometimes the interactions are provocative.  Sometimes the interactions are emotional.  Sometimes we “say” things in the heat of the moment that in retrospect we may have wanted to say a little differently or not at all.  We need to give each other the benefit of the doubt and a break sometimes, but we should also make sure that we aren’t using the media as a way to be hurtful and hateful.

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One Response to Facebook – A Downside

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