in defense of facebook (or why I am not an asshole)

So Jezebel posted “The More Facebook Friends You Have, the Bigger Asshole You Are“. Granted, she quotes a study regarding a small number of college students who happen to show narcissistic tendencies. She clearly hates narcissists. She possibly hates young people. Probably hates facebook. That’s a lot of generous qualifiers to give someone who made a sweeping title that would suggest I am an asshole.

For the record, as of this writing, I have 963 friends. I can honestly say I know them all. They are friends from decades ago; they are former and current students from where I profess; they are members of the deaf community which I served as an interpreter; they are colleagues, peers, people I have met online through social media and games.

May I make a few suggestions?

Facebook is not merely inhabited by the young. Facebook is not merely inhabited by narcissists. That there is no correlation to the number of friends one has to the quality of interaction the friend-haver has. That social media enables behaviors already inherent in individuals and affords the possibility of amplifying some; but also has the benefit of ameliorating others. That teenagers and twenty somethings and thirty somethings and any othersomethingsĀ have different concerns. That people of all ages write on occasion. Sometimes people write crap, ie. the post to which I am responding.

That social media – facebook specifically – is not any more inherently good or evil than a telephone or a hammer.

I recently had a very positive experience with facebook and my horde of friends. The very condensed version is this…I went to the hospital with what turned out to be a stroke. I was armed with my smartphone. I posted the happenings on facebook intermittently throughout the day – ostensibly to keep my friends and family informed of what was going on. No matter where my friends lay on that circle (Inner or periphery), the outpouring of love and concern and help to me was tangible evidence of what is otherwise ethereal connectedness. I got words in return. On my end, the posts were an important function of my status. This was real status, as in this-is-what-is-occurring-now. That I had a means of broadcasting that information for whom the information was meaningful was exactly what this tool does best.

I have no pithy end line. Just wanted to counter the demonization of a something that happened to be invaluable to me when I needed it. Excuse me as I give my condolences to a friend who lost his dog. Excuse me as I offer congratulations to someone who graduated ten years ago and is now a proud father across the sea.


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