27 August 2010

Day 153: The Facebook Effect

The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick.  ISBN: 9781439102114.

In one big sloppy makeout fest with Facebook, Kirkpatrick insinuates that "some" think Facebook will make us more honest people.  The thinking behind it that people who live their lives more publicly will be forced to be more honest and to behave within moral norms.  Here's the exact quote:

"Some claim, for example, that because of Facebook young people today have a harder time cheating on their boyfriends or girlfriends." Page 210-211.

Uh, yeah, no.  If anything I think Facebook just makes duplicitous people more ingenious in their duplicity.  Let's continue on with the example of cheating, since that was so conveniently presented to us.  Rather than simply cheating on two different people, a person could either find someone who is close to the boyfriend/girlfriend (or who just doesn't care) and cheat with them, or just have one night stands.  The first is probably more evil because it involves two people who know that the cheater is in a supposedly involved relationship. It is doubly evil if it someone who is close to the cheated participates because there's twice the duplicity.  If the cheating partner is only using the friend, well, s/he's a total jerk.

I have a problem with the theory of living publicly creating more moral citizens.  I think most people who cheat or do other questionable things do it partly for the thrill, this probably applies more to serial cheaters.  And let's not forget that politicians and other famous people have done ridiculously inappropriate things and you can't get much more public than that.

Besides, do we really want something like Facebook policing our moral behavior?  Granted, religion and law are all based on what is considered "right" by the current beliefs held by the populace.  But we all know how the internet makes with the stupid, and the idea of Facebook law is a scary, scary thing.  Think mob rule, but the mob is a bunch of 17-year-olds.

This review at TechCrunch compares Kirkpatrick and Facebook to a Twilight romance.  Sounds about right to me.


  1. All your posts concerning this book have been great. Very spirited and insightful. You should read more nonfic which posits ideas you disagree with. Being contrary is fun!

  2. It's not so much that I disagree with Kirkpatrick, Facebook is pretty amazing. I just don't think butt-kissing belongs in non-fiction, especially when it means you don't cover what your introduction claims you will cover.

    I have some pretty contrary and ragey posts about fiction as well, if you'll recall my post on The Atlantis Code: http://librarianslifeinbooks.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-57-atlantis-code.html.

    It's one of my person favorites.

  3. I've been on Facebook just over two weeks but I can see how it could change people's behavior. It may make them more honest or it could bring about a dual life sort of thing. What we post on Facebook vs. our true selves.

  4. I think Kirkpatrick's argument may be for those people who update on every single solitary second of their life. However I agree with your argument. I think instead of making people better it just shows how ugly some people are. Wasn't there something a few days ago about a teacher whose facebook became public knowledge after she talked really bad about her students and their parents?

  5. I agree that FaceBook has merely made people more deceitful; what people put on FaceBook is craftily chosen to present a specific self-image not the truth of a person. People are more or less creating themselves online in the image they want instead of presenting themselves as they are.

  6. Tink,

    Even when they update on every second of their life, they still have the option to choose a perspective to present to others. Most automatically choose to highlight the perspective or information that will gain them the most respect/attention/pity/etc. Can't say I heard of the particular news story you're referring too, but there have been many similar stories. People just don't learn.

    To everyone else:
    Wow! Thanks for all the comments. Apparently everyone has something to say about Facebook, so at the very least I'm glad we got to have a bit of dialogue and maybe think a bit more about it. As always, thanks for reading!


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