Facebook – the good, the bad and the ugly

Note (25/07/2017): One of the problems facing old age is there is a tendency to repeat oneself and not realise it. I can’t be so far gone though because after deciding to jot down a few thoughts about the subject, I find I have already done so and that in the recent past! My trigger this time was being reminded on my Facebook page today that I have now posted on my page 55 days in a row. Yesterday, I followed an interesting piece on the Radio 4 Today program that today’s obsession by young people especially with social media could be detrimental to their health. Then I listened to a speech by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, some I found disturbing because of his globalist views, and then another critical of Facebook article titled: “Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook“. Yet, in the main I find Facebook a useful tool: it has helped me to keep up with friends including making new ones, it is a great vehicle for my putting my message across, and as a community activist, especially concerning the area of homelessness, it is a fantastic means to communicate and get things done. If only there was a viable alternative but thus far there isn’t. Yes, “good, bad, ugly” all apply.

I have blogged about my use of Facebook before, including the inherent dangers and enormous potential for getting one’s message out, both of which I experienced big time in the past week.

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A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I became a serious Facebooker (this is the link to my page), little realising where this was going to end up. I wrote four years ago, with an agenda to promote my blog that I update regularly (this is the link to my blog): “By doing Facebook (now on a daily basis), I have been gradually dragged into the modern age (kicking and screaming). Ironic really, since much of my working life has involved computers – and I go back to the days when you had to punch code direct into the computer in binary and hackers were my hairy hippy heroes who I admired. My main reason for being a Facebook user with a growing band of “friends”, besides finding out what this disparate cohort is up to and things happening in the world, often not covered by mainstream media, is I can engage in constructive dialogue, as well as promote my own website: jrbpublications.com, where I offer my thoughts on subjects, many and sundry.

While Facebook has many inherent dangers (I kid you not: given the number of acrimonious fall outs I have seen played out in full glare of onlookers), I have found it a fantastic resource, but scary too given it’s addictive and distracting nature. Among many things, I have learnt and am learning the hard way a tool that could enlighten and uplift one’s readers can also antagonize and damage if not careful, and when sharing stuff to check out what is one is sharing and consider how best to make one’s point given the sensibilities of those who may read what you post. While my posts have been described by some as being enigmatic, weird and liable to incite bad attitudes, I also know that a good number have found them to be helpful. For me personally, it serves my purposes communicating everyday stuff (often with great outcomes), commentating on a world gone mad but with some chinks of light, encouraging those who care to read (just as I have been encouraged) and supporting my work as a gospel preaching, community activist.

There is no doubt that for me it is a fantastic resource (being able to share stuff with a wider audience, for example) and I don’t have to pay a penny. I usually visit Facebook at least once a day (sometimes several times – thus the health warning) and I usually go through (mostly rapidly) all of that which has been posted since last time (especially if having been “notified” first). I often share posts that strike me as share worthy as well as my own stuff (especially when relating to my own blogs). As one who has never consistently maintained a diary, this is perhaps the nearest I am ever going to get. But there is a worrying downside, when it comes to who controls the Internet. Along with Google, Facebook has both wrongly censored material (evidenced by a friend who had shared a post from someone who is controversial yet (imo) correct, finding that post was later removed) and the sinister way it can shut down (and worse) free thought in its quest for global domination (evidenced by this “Facebook Helps Pakistan Identify Thought Criminals” story). This near monopoly is worrying and needs challenging.

But we are where we are and we make use of whatever is available in order to do what we feel we need to do (where Facebook happens to be a prime example), and besides the serious points around freedom to express dissenting opinion (although certain things like inciting violence and peddling pedophilia, for example, need censoring) and having one’s information shared without ones knowledge or authorization, Facebook, with health warnings, is indeed useful.

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