Driving to work this morning, I was listening to one of the morning radio shows, and the call-in theme of the day was people calling in to say how their lives had been ruined by Facebook (mostly women, whose husbands have had affairs originating on Facebook). Apparently, the inspiration for the show's theme was this hit list of 69 teenagers in Columbia, on which three have already died. Clearly, this is horrific, and shocking, and our hearts go out to the families involved, as well as the other 66 kids on the list. But is Facebook to blame for this? Is Facebook to blame for destroying marriages?
Were there no murders happening before Facebook? Were people not committing adultery? Yes, of course, in some ways, social networking does make it easier to meet people online, and, that would include potential partners to cheat with. Social networking sites like Facebook also provide a public forum for those wanting to threaten others (as in the hit list).
However, these things were happening before Facebook was developed. I would suggest that sites like Facebook might also make it easier to identify and prosecute those guilty of murder. It provides documentation of the chronology of events. Facebook makes it easier to identify those people in our lives who could be potential "stalkers." Basically, it gets a lot of things out in the open that used to be difficult to find.
In short, Facebook is a tool. Just as guns can be used to hunt food for our families, or murder innocent people, Facebook can be used for good or evil. Let's focus our anger on the criminals, not on the venue.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.