Yes, I believe Facebook (FB)has become to relationships and society as a whole. I think it’s time for an honest evaluation of our social media. Before I get into why, let’s look back at the origins of this social media conglomerate.

Origins

Although, the site seemed like a good idea, at the time, Mr. Zuckerberg soon discovered stealing private information for the purpose starting a babe site had its drawbacks and consequences. Yet, in spite of the threat of expulsion and legal trouble, he was not to be dissuaded. Instead, he went back to the drawing board, wrote another program and in 2004, TheFacebook.com (later shortened to Facebook) was up and running. This time with a different or more expanded purpose — a place where the brilliant students of Harvard could connect and share notes (sure).

Initially, the program remained restricted to the Harvard campus, but soon expanded to all Ivy League schools. The site grew faster than kudzu in the South and By 2006, anyone over the age 13 could join, create a profile and start socializing — making “friends,” uploading pictures, videos, comment, and “liking” whatever suited their mood at the time.

Pinterest

The company went public in 2012 and in July of 2015, Standard & Poor’s 500 Index listed Facebook as the fastest growing social network in the world with a market cap, of $250 billion.

The Dark Side

What began as an avenue to share class notes, make new friends, and score a hot date, soon evolved into much more — a popularity contest of sorts. Young members started measuring their self-worth based on the number of friends, or likes they received. Pictures started pushing the boundaries with the express purpose of gaining more friends and “likes.” Bullies used it to wreck havoc on vulnerable teenager. Bullying had a new, secret and sinister avenue and pedophiles a picture gallery from which to choose and parents, far behind in technology, were clueless.

According to The Best Degrees, the seven most common FB crimes include: 1) Scams — enticing members to click on a link designed for the purpose of stealing private or financial information. 2)Cyberbullying — a particularly vicious crime against the youngest and most vulnerable with harmful and even deadly consequences. 3) Stalking — you know, repeatedly visiting ones profile, leaving or harassing messages, or threats often progressing to actual in person stalking and to the point the victim is terrorized. 4) Robbery — it never ceases to amaze me how often people on FB announce to the world they are going on vacation. With Google maps, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to locate your home address. 5) Identity theft — hackers are more proficient than you can imagine. Opening the wrong link can provide all your vital statistics necessary to steal your identity. “More than 600,000 Facebook accounts are compromised very day.” 6) Defamation- posting false information about a person or business that affects them negatively. It’s more difficult that you think to prove an untruth. 7) Harassment- persistent messages, inappropriate comments, or threats (a common FB occurrence).

Seeds of Division

“More than one-third of social media users are worn out by the amount of political content they encounter, and more than half describe their online interactions with those they disagree with politically as stressful and frustrating.”

Facebook has evolved from its questionable “hot babes” startup to come full circle as an instrument of misinformation, bias, hatred, and where crimes are now streamed live, including rape, murder, suicide, and acts of terror. Connections between people have become tenuous, eroded trust, and created confusion. We no longer know whom or what to believe or how to differentiate between truth and lies. We reached out to connect with others but are find ourselves further apart than ever.

Without the nuances of genuine face-to-face conversations (facial expressions, tone, body language) we lose true connections. Our words become more about being right than connecting. When we can hide behind a user name, or don’t have to face the confusion and hurt on another’s face, words come easy regardless of the consequences.

Yes, I believe Facebook has become toxic to each other, our kids and society. We’ve lost the thread of common decency, civility, the ability to disagree, or demonstrate old-fashioned manners.

Personally, I think it’s time we did something — perhaps sign off, pick up a phone, invite someone to lunch and start connecting face to face, again.

Sheila McIntyre Good — Nurse turned Writer. Booklover, author, loyal friend, wife and mother.

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