The Devil At The Table: Social Networks and You, Part Two

Social Networks aren’t bad and they’re not good.  It is what you do with them that is bad and good.  Guns really don’t kill people.  People kill people with Guns. There’s a point here, I promise.

The problem most people have with Social Networks is that it allows a level of connectivity that, in the wrong hands, could be dangerous.  For example: this whole Anthony Weiner thing occurred because a Congressman couldn’t “Not” post pictures of his half-naked self on the internet.  He couldn’t help it. He was compelled to do it.  I know some people who pointed at Twitter and said, there! You see! That’s the problem with the internet! It let’s you do stuff like that!  Facebook allows “Facebook fights” where people go back and forth about a particular topic for far too long. Myspace is a place where nasty old men go trolling for young girls. Etcetera. Etcetera. The funny thing is, no one talks about the millions of people who are not putting their private parts on Twitter and who aren’t fighting on Facebook.  Most people use Social Networks the way they should be used. And, since there is no rule to how to use a social network, my last statement is redundant.  The universal rule, though, for pretty much all manner of man-made item is “Everything in moderation.”  If you are a consenting adult, and no one is being adversely affected by your actions, have fun. Social Networks just allow that rule to be pushed as far as anything can be pushed: to the utmost limits.

Can this be bad, though?  I can tell you that Social networks can be, very sneaky like, very addictive. One minute you are just checking on your friend’s status. The next minute is actually an hour later. And any time you are on a Social Network, time isn’t real time. You haven’t cleaned anything and you haven’t made any money (well, maybe you have, if you networked that way). They are empty calories. It is hard to justify and hard to swallow when you spent three hours looking at someone’s pictures.  However, if we are to think about this in a strangely capitalistic sense, the Market will solve this problem.  I say “The Market” loosely, but the essential idea is that people who don’t waste time on Social Networks may, most likely, be more productive. These people will move above the people who get sucked in, and the people who get sucked in will realize the mistake of getting sucked in and move out of that bad habit.  This happens.  After years of Facebook, I’m basically over it. I go there once a day, but I spend more time on Twitter, where my interactions with people are quicker and briefer and where my maintaining of my profile isn’t the core responsibly of my profile. Have you ever been on Facebook and it felt like work? Well, that’s a problem. And once you realize that, you will be free of it.  So, yes, it can be bad. But it is quickly fixable and not as bad as a heroin addiction. So there’s that.

Ultimately, these Social Networks are just code and servers. If you are having a bad time on them, or if you are using them too often, you can blame them all you want but it isn’t their fault. They have no fault. Yes, their design might lend to fault, but so does the design of say a tree. Trees catch on fire, so that is their weakness.  Facebook has to be used by people, so that’s the weakness, too. But you can’t blame the tree and you can’t blame Social Networks. You have to blame the fire, the people that use the Social Networks. And, nine times out of ten?  Yes, that’s right, the blame for having a bad experience with Social Networks goes directly to you.

But will it change us as a people?  Well….