Jun 04

The Facebook of Our Lives

Tech Talk
Joel T. Fagsao

In the “Bontoc Ili ay Kalalaychan” Fan Page- a page created in Facebook, the number of fans jumped from zero to 389 in a few days.  The number may be insignificant as other Facebook created pages can get a thousand to a million fans in a few days depending on a particular issue, popularity or geographic coverage.  For the Bontoc Fan Page, it is understandably a page where Bontocs (including its barangays) converge to say hi, express opinions, catch up with each other’s lives, upload photos and videos, celebrate life’s happiest moments or simply flaunt “here’s how I look today!” (even with all the layers of blubber).  With five hundred million registered users on Facebook, the social network site is by far the world’s number one.  Decades back, the slumbook was where you get your friends to write information about themselves like “favorite food” and at the page’s end, your friend is obliged to say something good about you.  The platform has not changed in today’s “Facebook” age.  In the slumbook era, the more pages filled up with friend’s greetings-the line of thought is that it is a measure of how popular you are.  The same is true with Facebook.  It’s business model is anchored on human emotions.  If you have a Facebook account, you tend to accept as many friend requests as you can.  That means having to confirm friends even if in the real world-when you meet, you don’t even say hi to each other.  It would be a natural for some to gain as many friends but others obviously consider it a badge of “popularity” as the number or friends one has appears below your profile photo. 

There could be some aha moments in Facebook when an old friend, or flame suddenly finds you and wants to reconnect.  Be careful though, Facebook can destroy a marriage.

It is thus within us to tread with caution the world of Facebook.  In 2005, Facebook started accepting high school age (thirteen and above) kids to have an account.  Parents must be aware of this.  You never know the extent of damage (emotional, worse physical) it might give to your child.  As a parent or guardian, spend more time with your kids.  Facebook is not your baby sitter.  You may not be computer or Internet savvy but you can still reconnect and exert parental control.  First, you can ask your teen how Facebook works and then discuss with your child the dangers of sharing too much information.  Be warned that people can misrepresent themselves online.  One can create a Facebook account of a popular individual without permission.

Be careful too with what you post on your account it might hurt others without you knowing it, worse, something that you posted on Facebook can come back to haunt you.  As an illustration, in your Facebook account you tend to blabber about how bad your boss is or your place of work.  The practice today is for companies to extend background checks on you and Facebook is one.  So if I were your employer, I could review things you posted that could shape my opinion about you.

Technological breakthroughs can have advantages or disadvantages.   To be fair, Facebook was extensively used at the height of typhoon Ondoy.  Information is power and that Facebook users used the platform to direct relief efforts, provide advisory—much better than the government’s disaster relief efforts.  Facebook can also come in handy when working for a cause, get the job done or organizing an event.  There are no geographical bounderies online and our way of communicating with each has changed.  It is instant, it is right there, it is right now.

As a Facebook user ethics and respect for other’s opinions are important things to bare in mind.  You just don’t write anything which you might regret doing in the first place.  If you upload a photo that includes others in the picture- ask permission.  Some may not like their photos to be published.  If possible do not post your child’s photo (complete with name).  You just don’t know where it might end- the worse that could happen is if it will fall in the hands of a kidnap or child porn ring.  A British Facebook user’s house was ransacked when he announced on his account that he was going on vacation.  A wife discovered her husband was cheating on her when a friend alerted her of amorous messages posted on his account.  The husband found his former girlfriend on Facebook.

It is of utmost importance that you educated yourself about privacy settings on Facebook. You just don’t know where your photo (in an uncompromising pose) or comments would end up.  In the “modern” world,  old fashioned values still hold true.