Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Facebook, good or bad?

When Facebook first became viral it was a real novelty, We could connect with friends who had moved away, we could announce social events and share photos with family and friends alike. When its creator developed the code he probably had no idea how successful the concept would become. 

Fast forward to 2010 and Facebook is now almost 6 years old. I registered back in the early days but soon realised that a huge part of my day was spent reading pointless status updates, poking and superpoking friends, commenting on photos and playing poker. I witnessed my employees at the time spending time with facebook on their computer screens, we then had our IT people restrict access to the site on work computers only to then have employees using their mobile telephones to access Facebook instead!

So other than being an unacceptable invasion of privacy and a nuisance for employers what other effects is Facebook having on society? 

When my ex wife had an affair that was responsible for the end of our marriage, I became aware of her infidelity by spotting unusual activity on her itemised mobile phone statement. This was the late 1990s and was a time when SMS text messaging was in a growth period. Everyone suddenly had a mobile telephone and so instant communication had become a part of everyday life and as a result affairs sky rocketed as people discovered as I did the extent of their partners activities. 

Facebook is now the catalyst behind 20% of divorces. Lawyers have said that 1 in 5 divorce petitions contain Facebook references. That is a shocking figure that is only set to rise. More and more companies are now embracing the business opportunity that such an invasive venue provides. Facebook is able to target very specific demographics as it has access to location, age, income etc. It is almost impossible to escape being lured in to Facebook now, itunes have been running a "12 days of Christmas" promotion on the iphone that enables a free download of an app, movie, song etc for each day over christmas. In order to download the app you are encouraged to connect to Facebook, this I guess would then alert all your "friends" to what you have just downloaded and therefore trigger viral downloading by others. 

The Viral aspect of Facebook is awesome. it really is an advertisers dream. Recently as you may know a Facebook user managed to use the viral power of Facebook to influence the Christmas number one song, no doubt to the amazement of Simon Cowell. Will society harness the people power that this exercise has demonstrated?

So what does the future hold for Facebook? Will it become a venue for just kids? Will people continue to publish their entire life in hour by hour segments for all to see? Who knows? It's all about clicks, getting clicks through to advertisers, that is how the whole thing works. In addition, we are by nature voyeuristic, that is why the program Big Brother is so successful.  I can't help to worry about how dangerous it is to have people in your neighbourhood knowing your every move and thought. How many times have you surfed Facebook jumping from friends list to photo albums and back again simply being nosey about people who you know well or not so well? Rest assured, people are also poking their nose into your life too!


  1. hey! YOU Should friend me!!:) I LOVE facebook! BUT, then again I am single..its not a threat!! I don't meet people on facebook I hang out with people I already know.BUT, its is a powerful vessel to spread the word..when my friend died and we all wanted to wear purple , husbands of friends of mine were saying to their wives " On facebook, Debbie said you need to wear purple today". LOL! love that....so find my badge on my blog and friend me already!!! ;)

  2. I don't like face book, I think it is intrusive and your privacy is there for the world to see whether they know you well or not. What surprised me was when my son had a Facebook account and when I viewed the stuff in there, he had nothing just games and more games. I asked how is it he had no personal information in there. He said "are you crazy, it might come back and bite you" Whoa I was shocked with his POV, for a young boy that is. Really wonder why he even bother to have the account?

    But to the rest of the brave people using Facebook, I am full of admiration. I don't think I have the courage to have one. :(

  3. I have to agree with Debbie...FB can be a lot of fun. As for the annoying updates to every move your FB Friends make, you are right Steve, that can be insane...but, as you know, you can turn those notifications off.
    Hi Gaia...FB really can be quite safe, you are in control of who see's your information (for the most part). Of course, FB can be and has been "hacked", but I think all in all, it's as safe as you make it. Don't accept "friend" requests from people you are not certain of!

  4. hey Steve,
    not sure if you read my follow up comments, so am responding here...Car is not looking for good. it is an older mercedes that my parents gave me..and it is somewhere that specializes, but I have been told possibly head gasket and whatever it is will be more costly, more then likely, then the car is worth! Should no more tomorrow,..*sigh*!

  5. Luv Facebook b/c it keeps me up with all those folks I did not want to forget.
    Hate Facebook b/c we as humans are forgetting how to pick up a phone and just have a conversation.

  6. Facebook is kinda creepy. I try and stay away because otherwise it sucks up a ton of time. But when I am on there, I do enjoy corresponding with folks I've been out of touch with for a long time. Maybe texting and facebook are making infidelity easier but I'm not sure that they are really the cause. Although it is difficult to learn how to navigate these new social mediums and I could see how something innocent could turn into something not-so-innocent pretty quickly because we don't have any social guidelines in place to prevent such things.

    I don't really know. I'm gonna move out into the desert!

  7. Hey all,

    A real mixed bag of opinions then?

    Debbie, Hope the car can be fixed. it isn't too big of a job depending on what model you have.

    Gaia - what a switched on young man your son must be! Sensible young guy!

    Sharon - yeah the notifications are terrible, so invasive. And people give the most pointless Status updates too!

    Rob- pretty much my view, a real double edged sword!

    Singlutionary - Perhaps the most valid point yet. There are no established social guidelines, innocent comments can be misinterpreted and harmless flirting can lead to so much more.

    So the Jury is still out then? Good or Bad?


  8. I thought I would chime in on this again :)
    I have been on the receiving end of being cheated on in 2 marriages. For a long time I couldn't help but think that it was something wrong in me that "drove" my partner into the arms of someone else...and maybe that is the case in part but, we all have this thing called "free will". Everyone makes choices, we do it all day, every day of our lives. People choose to cheat. Maybe Facebook, porn, strip joints, even grocery stores contribute, but they are not the reason. It is black and white, no gray area in my opinion, people have a choice. Period.

  9. Round 2 eh Sharon! :) this is what we want, some really good meaty debating! lol

    I've been cheated on too, I agree that there has to be something fundamentally wrong with the relationship in the first place but if we are all brutally honest....We are ALL susceptible to temptation, we all enjoy a little light flirting, a bit of attention and this is where Facebook becomes the villain. Prior to Facebook, My Space, MSN etc there was just SMS messaging. Prior to that it all had to be done face to face which took a bit more nerve etc. Facebook in particular serves as a platform for flirting with ease. Sadly, it isn't very discreet hence it now being cited in a great many divorce cases.

    I have to face the fact that my wife cheated because there was something wrong with our relationship. We had settled into family life and neither of us showed the other the level of attention that we should have. Someone came along who flattered my ex and made her feel special, the rest is history. Was it my fault? Yes of course it was to a degree, probably a greater degree than I care to acknowledge.

  10. I agree with Gaia, I do not like that or twitter.