In “You Need To Get Off Facebook”, Ross Gardiner presents what appears at first glance to be a convincing case for you to delete your Facebook account. However, like most that have followed before him he chooses to focus on some of the worst possible cases, suggesting that a “cold turkey” style approach is going to be most beneficial to your life.
As with most advances in technology, the product is only as dangerous (or as useful) as you allow it to be. All of Gardiner’s complaints about the medium can be avoided with little effort required on your part – either through creative use of friends filters if you’re one of those people that simply must approve every friend request that comes your way, or through the easier act of limiting the people you accept as friends on Facebook.
Issues with tagging in photos? Again – pick your friends carefully. Only people who you have as friends can tag you. Make it clear you don’t want to be tagged, and if someone isn’t respecting those wishes, the defriend button is a single click away. “Friends” looking at your photos and judging you? I hate to point out the obvious, but if they’re doing this on Facebook, they’re doing it via other “real life” mediums too.
This brings us to the touchy subject of addiction. Gardiner claims he’s been “clean for 5 months and 17 days” – implying that he considers use of the medium an addiction. This may be true for some – but Internet Addiction Disorder isn’t exactly a new thing, (before Facebook’s screaming rise to popularity, Blizzard Entertainment’s “World of Warcraft” online game was a popular target for the “this technology is ruining your life” crowd) and it’s only ever as problematic to the extent that these activities interfere with an individuals normal life.
I would argue that it is possible to have a Facebook account and use it sensibly – that it can in fact enhance that “normal life”. A number of my Facebook friends are musicians, DJ’s or promoters and the medium provides a convenient way of tracking when their gigs are on and whether it conflicts with anything else I have going on at the time. Through choosing my friends carefully, my “links” filter on Facebook is a collection of some of the web’s most hilarious, informative and controversial content – including this video. I’ve had some deeply thought provoking debate and discussion via Facebook on everything ranging from philosophy to politics.
I’ve been able to help no less than five of my friends in their search for employment through their announcement of intentions via Facebook. To anyone climbing a career ladder, the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is especially true. Social networking doesn’t form a replacement for existing methods of networking (going to the pub with coworkers, attending industry functions, etc.) but it compliments it extremely well.
To summarize – if you’re doing anything too much, it’s a problem. This isn’t rocket science. Moderate your use of everything in your life. Don’t blame the technology for “evil”, examine whether or not you’re using it correctly. The content is only ever going to be as good as those providing it – so choose your friends wisely. If Gardiner’s video makes you consider that balance (and maybe cull a couple of hundred of “friends” you don’t really need), it’s doing a good thing. If it makes you quit the medium entirely, I think you’re giving up something incredibly useful and taking the easy way out.
If that makes me a “dribbling turbospaz”, so be it.