Anti Social Networking

For my entire professional life, I have promoted the free exchange of information. I have personally enabled thousands of people to access the Internet for the first time. I've helped many of those people along, showing them the ropes- and how to utilize the vast information resource that is the Internet. From the very beginning, the Internet has helped to enable social networking- in the form of email, Internet relay chat, and forums to voice over IP telephony, and videoconferencing. All of these technologies utilize the Internet to enable humans to better communicate with one another and share information. Ultimately that is the purpose of the Internet.

Also, from the very beginning, there have been those doomsayers who have preached that the Internet is 'evil' and that nothing good happens on the Internet. Those who say that as soon as you connect to the Internet you'll be flooded with viruses and spam, or someone will steal your credit card or banking information. Can those things happen? Yes, it's possible, but as long as you take simple precautions, it's highly unlikely. If you hand your credit card to a waiter or waitress, you're far more likely to have him/her steal your credit card information than it ever be intercepted on the Internet- especially with modern encryption safeguards. The Internet is a relflection of reality- there are good people, and bad- just as in real life. People drive cars every day because the benefits of transportation outweigh the risk of a crash. Likewise, billions use the Internet every day because the benefits of the Internet far outweigh the risks. The Internet is a force multiplier- making mankind many times more efficient and capable than we otherwise would be through the efficient sharing of information and resources. I have fought doomsayers for years - people whose opinions are based in ignorance and who dissuade others from taking advantage of the most powerful information resource in the history of mankind.

While I've managed to help get most of my family on the Internet, there are still those family and friends who have an irrational fear of technologies such as Facebook. I've heard the following arguments from different people:
  • "I don't want anyone to be able to find me." Okay, I don't necessarily think being that anti-social is healthy, but I suppose I can understand the 'private person' rationale. However, if you want to access information on Facebook (i.e. another user's baby photos etc) you can still create an account and adjust your privacy settings such that no other users can see anything at all about you unless you give them permission, or just don't enter any information about you to share in the first place.
  • When we had our son Hunter, I heard "Aren't you afraid 'people' will know you have a son?" Umm... seriously? As if people aren't going to notice from the public issuance of a birth certificate, the birth announcements in newspapers.. or let's see the car seat, toys, etc? I have never understood people who live in fear - fear of people, fear of the unknown or in this case both.
  • "X and Y got into a fight over Facebook so I don't use Facebook." Seriously? Because X and Y can't figure out how to manage their relationship properly, it's Facebook's fault? There are obviously times when a face to face is a good idea but Facebook does not create enemies - that takes human beings. Email, SMS, Facebook, letters, telephones, instant messaging, videoconferencing... these are all just different methods for humans to communicate with one another.
  • "Facebook is a waste of time and unproductive." On the contrary, I have (and do) use Facebook to great benefit professionally- working with clients, vendors, and spreading the word about business. I've used it to find and vet employees and even companies that I want to do business with, personally and professionally.
I find Facebook (and similar social networking sites) an efficient and easy way to keep up with friends and family and share information with one another. We live in a busy world today, and keeping up with one another's lives and families often takes a backseat - but Facebook, in my opinion, has helped to bring together friends and families that have otherwise drifted apart. But anytime humans are involved, there is the unpredictable human element- humans who are irresponsible in reality are likely to be irresponsible on the Internet as well, but that has nothing to do with the Internet or Facebook- that has to do with humanity. As long as there are those who blame technology for the flaws of humanity, I will stand against them and continue to promote the use of technology for the betterment of humanity. The Internet, like a firearm, is a tool... it can be used for good or for evil depending on who uses it. I believe the Internet is an overwhelming force for good just as firearms are- but only so long as good people outnumber the bad. Tools themselves are neither good nor bad.

I have no problem with those who simply choose not to engage in social networking, or even the Internet, but I do have a problem with those who choose to do so based on incorrect and irrational information, or simply fear of the unknown, and who espouse those views to others - contributing to the perpetuation of misinformation. Myself and others like me will always be there to correct misinformation and help where it's wanted.


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