irish i may

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On Facebook and Nosy Ladies...

My daughter and I were surprised week to find out a good friend of my son just broke up with her boyfriend.  A 19 year old breaking up with her boyfriend, of course, is not such a shocking thing.  Where we were all surprised is that this young romance was chronicled over the last year on Facebook with hundreds (literally) of lovey-dovey snapshots and pronouncements of affection.  So what happened?  Well, we don't know and what's more it's not our business. However, having been made party to the relationship, we now want to be party to its end game, which brings me to...

...a fantastic post from the ever-radical Matthew Warner on quitting Facebook.  As someone who is only rarely on Facebook any more, I took it as encouragement to take the last radical step and just disable my account.  I like that Warner's reasons ultimately boiled down to whether FB was a good use of his God-given time in building relationships, or not so much so.  

This was particularly interesting to me because my oldest, showing an amazingly mature attitude, disabled her own account last spring for reasons both practical and philosophical, many of which were echoed in Warner's own thinking.   One of Mia's most important reasons was the one that Warner called "Life through a Lens".  As he put it, the living of your life became less important than the reporting of it.  I recall on that note a couple of occasions in high school when she persuaded either her grandmother or I to buy her an new outfit for a certain event, rather than risking the humiliation of being photographed for Facebook in a re-worn dress!

But, as Mia enters her senior year, she noted that even this far into college, many of her friends were still very concerned with the public nature of their social lives.  You travel, go out to eat, attend parties, go to baseball games,  relax on Rejects Beach; who cares unless its all recorded on Facebook? Its not so much that you are having fun, its that everyone KNOWS you are having fun. Soon you aren't having fun to have fun, but to seem to have fun. Hmmm... 

One of her other big reasons for quitting FB was the question of who she gave access to her private life.  Not just an enormous, increasingly ubiquitous, corporation, but even individuals, most of whom she only knows casually.  Some time ago I was talking to my high school students about our school policy forbidding teachers to "friend" students on their private accounts.  I suggested to them that even they deserved an arena of privacy that I and other school personnel did not have access to.  Most of them had never even considered such a notion.  To my son's young friend, though I won't have the chance, I would say something similar.  She deserves to have a youthful romance without exciting the interest of nosy middle-aged ladies and their teen-aged daughters. Or, as Warner put it:

Intimacy requires some level of privacy and exclusivity of audience. That’s what makes it special. With Facebook, if we have something good to share, we rarely *only* share it with somebody special. The ability to share it with *lots of people* is too easy and the temptation too strong. This has led to fewer special, personal and intimate moments in our friendships.

 Sounds about right, no?  For even more encouragement to quit FB, I found this great post from Mama needs Coffee.  Less Facebook, more Downton Abbey?  I can handle that!

No comments:

Post a Comment