Monday, April 29, 2013

Does Facebook make people anti-social?

Last night as my wife was on the phone, her mother explained, on the verge of tears, how her daughter had chewed her out for not traveling sixty miles for a birthday party that was announced a day earlier only via Facebook.  She tried to explain to her daughter that both her and her husband were sick and could not make the long journey on such short notice.  Furthermore, this particular party was being held a month after the actual birthday.  And with all of fury the daughter could muster, she straight up told her mother that "if [she had] tried to understand why they were sick every single time they were sick, she would have the Guinness Book of World Records for compassion." 

My wife explained to her somewhat distraught mother that Facebook has changed how people act socially.  She explained that on the internet there is no seeing the other person's face, no hearing the other person's voice.  Instead, one sends out a message to a picture and has nothing to hold them back from being as mean and bitter as they can possibly be.  Tact is not an ordinary tool that is used when on the internet, sadly.  Instead, people spout off anything that comes to mind, some of which are hateful and spiteful words.  Words that people would rarely use in the real world to those who they profess to love.  In short, Facebook makes people anti-social.

But, Facebook is not the real world.  Facebook is fantasy. 

Like many, my wife's sister has lost much of her social skills as a result of her time on Facebook.  People need face to face interaction with other people to grow socially.  Those who live their lives via Facebook regress to a point where the entire world is confusing and perplexing.  My wife's sister lives her entire life via Facebook.  Sadly, even though she is both physically and financially capable, she rarely leaves her home.  Her world exists through a screen.  She uses Facebook as a medium to brag about her life and how she perceives it to be.  She bullies those who do not agree with her.  She does not pick up the phone to call her parents nor does she e-mail.  And when she wants to invite someone to one of her nine children's birthday parties, she does it entirely via Facebook. 

Yet, before Facebook she was not always this way.  In fact, she used to plan gatherings with her parents and family and spend much time with them.   As they are getting older, she would drive herself and her children to their house and spend an evening or weekend with them.  She was very much a part of the family and considered herself a family centric individual.  Then Facebook arrived.  At this point she began to withdraw.  She realized that the new world of Facebook was now to become her home.  Instead of visiting family in person, she would post on their Facebook profile wall.  Instead of having her grandchildren visit she would post pictures of them getting older.  And like a hoarder, she would collect the hundreds of likes that came as a result of these pictures.  Each like gave her something.  Perhaps it was some positive reinforcement, maybe it improved her sometimes weak self-esteem.  It also, however, gave her the assurance that she no longer had to leave the house.  The fantasy world of Facebook had become more enticing than the real world that existed outside.  The real world, to her, was now dying. 

As time passed, my wife's sister began to grow angry at the world that existed off her computer.  She began to hate this terrifying and confusing world.  So, she would withdraw either onto her phone or her laptop.  Instead of talking to others when they visited, she would stare at the screen, waiting for a text message or search for a picture to post onto Facebook.  There would be no communication for those who did not join her on Facebook.  If you were not on Facebook, she did not exist.  You did not exist.  And that is how it has been for a while now.

There are hundreds of such stories out there.  True tales of people who withdraw from the modern world, instead opting to live the remainder of their lives on Facebook.  Facebook gives some people more than they believe they can get out of the real world.  Where else can you say something and have hundreds of people like it in minutes?  Where else can you make what you feel to be a lackluster life seem like a dream?  The real world is hard.  Facebook is easy.

Yet, life is meant to be shared in person with others.  Yet more and more people are sharing their lives only through a computer screen or cellular phone.  Instead of spending time with their families and loved ones, people instead would rather gather likes on a computer screen.  Instead of spending time with parents and family members that will one day no longer be around, people would rather brag and talk trash on the internet.  What will it take to change this?  What will it take to make people step back and realize what is important in life?  For those who say that Facebook is a harmless tool, they do not understand the deeper psychological aspects that users of the site experience.  Many say that it will not happen to them, but as I sit in a classroom full of people who are obsessed with Facebook and not interested in listening to a lecture or watching a public speaker, I can not help but wonder if this is not happening to most of Facebook's users.  When I see people walk around with their eyes glued to their phone instead of enjoying the world around them, I can't help but wonder if we have stepped backwards as a species.  When I see people justify their use and their obsession to an (a)social media website, I can not help but wonder if they are trying to tell themselves once again that they are not addicted.

The reality is that if you are using the website to the detriment of any other aspect of your life, and you see no problem with it, you are addicted.  If you are letting your family life, your relationships, your professional life, or your dreams pass you by while you use Facebook, you need to reconsider your priorities. 

The internet is not the real world.  Facebook is not the real world.  Those who live their lives through these mediums miss out on an amazing life and an amazing experience.  Those who live through a computer screen or a cellular phone are truly hurting themselves.  There is a problem with such a life, and those who do not

see it choose to not want to see it.  We have been given this life, a chance to experience a world that has been created for us.  We have a precious existence that is literally wasted through the obsession we have with (a)social networks.  Ask yourself today if you want to go back to the world that you knew a few years ago.  Ask yourself if you want to live once again.  Many could benefit and grow if they merely gave up the site that has hindered their development. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Employers Keeping an Eye on Employee's Social Network Profiles!

There has been a lot of attention lately on employers and regulatory bodies that want to keep an eye on the lives of others, particularly through their internet profiles.  For example, a recent story from CNN stated that a wall street regulator wants the power to keep tabs on stockbroker's social network postings.  In other words, he wants to be able to see what wall street employees are saying on their (a)social media accounts in order to see if they are not complying with the law.

The argument goes "investors must be protected, if stockbrokers are chattering about stocks on Facebook and Twitter, FINRA must ensure that the stockbrokers comply with the policies of Wall Street firms."

According to CNN, earlier in the year, FINRA sent letters to around 10 states with laws and/or proposed legislation that ban this kind of monitoring.  The Wall Street Journal recently reported on this matter.

There have been many instances of people being fired for their posts on Facebook over the last few years, and some states have reacted by banning companies from monitoring their employee's accounts.  Again, this begs the question, why have such (a)social media accounts in the first place when your real life (and Facebook is not 'real life') is at risk?

In 2011, there was a lawsuit by an officer at the Maryland Division of Corrections.  He was applying for re-certification after a leave of absence.  The officer stated that an interviewer asked for his Facebook log in information during the interview.  The American Civil Liberties Union took the case, and not too far afterward, Maryland banned this practice.  Other states have begun to follow.  Such laws generally ban employers from requiring access to their employee's and job applicant's social network accounts.

However, now FINRA wants broker-dealers excluded from that ban. 

"Prohibiting access to these accounts conflicts with a firm's responsibilities to comply with federal requirements and threatens investor protection," FINRA complained in its letter. As Smaragdis puts it, FINRA wants financial companies to be able to "follow up on 'red flags.'" (Source: CNN)

Those who support the bans on social networking monitoring believe that if an employer can monitor Facebook posts in order to make sure you are following the company's rules, what would stop them from looking through your photos and your life, using the information they find against you?  This is seen by some, especially those who value privacy, as an abuse of power. 

Of course, the best answer seems to be, don't bother with such sites in the first place.  What would an employer say or be able to do if you were not on Facebook?  After all, not everyone is.  Many who find themselves on Facebook get themselves into trouble.  And is the mental anguish worth it?  What does a person lose by not having a profile?  Of course, that is the main topic of this site.  However, that point is hard to hit home when many people feel that having Facebook is a necessity in life.

I have known people who have become angry at me for finding information about them that they posted on various websites and blogs.  If you do not want your life to be shared with the rest of the world, do not share it on the internet.  The internet is a public forum.  By sharing the intimate details of your life on Facebook, there is a huge chance that others will see it.  I am for privacy, but wonder why those who are on Facebook get especially upset when their privacy is or may be uncovered.  Facebook is, after all, a site thats main purpose is to make the world a more transparent place.  Privacy means keeping personal information about yourself, your life, and the life of your loved ones to yourself (and to those you trust).  If you are posting about your life on a website that was designed to make your life transparent, then you may want to consider otherwise if you do not like often hurtful consequences.  (A)social networking is not worth it.

Source: CNN

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fake Facebook Profiles: How Many Do You Need?

Recently it was said that there were over a billion people on Facebook.  Then later on it was said that many of those profiles were fake.  But the big question remains, why would anyone have more than one Facebook account?  Isn't one account enough?
So, how many of these accounts are fake? Facebook estimates 8.7 percent, or 83.09 million accounts.
That's a huge jump, both in raw numbers and as a percentage, from Facebook's last estimate. Back in March, Facebook said 5 to 6 percent of accounts are false or duplicate. At the time, this meant between 42.25 million and 50.70 million users.

Source: cnet
It can take a long time to create, mold, and perfect a Facebook profile.  No doubt some people have spent as much time on Facebook as some of the greatest painters, writers, and sculptors in history have spent on their iconic works.   Can you even imagine how much time one spends when they are milking multiple profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and other such sites?

I too have dabbled with multiplicity

Like many, my hands are not clean.  I used to have multiple Facebook and Myspace profiles.  I had one for another website I was making, one for myself, and one for an alter ego of myself.  While I spent very little time on these alternate accounts, I felt that any time spent thereon was a waste of my precious time.  I was right.  I could have been doing something more worthwhile with it.  I could have spent that time with a family member, a friend, or even with my cat.  I could have sat down and wrote a family member a letter expressing my love for them.  Instead, like many, I was absorbed in Facebook, doing what the creators and shareholders wanted me to do -- immersing myself, my time, and my very life into it.

A life without Facebook?
The truth is, I personally know many people who have more than one profile on Facebook.  Some use it for their nome de plume, others use it for a fantasy version of who they wish to become.  Some use a fake profile to start discord on the internet.  Others have a fake profile to cheat on their spouse or significant other.  There are a host of reasons one may use to make a fake profile, but there are very few really compelling reasons to be on Facebook in the first place.  In fact, although I know many people who disagree with the message of this site, not one person has given me a good reason why they spend hours a day on Facebook.  Not one.  In fact, many actually agree with the message or points of this site, but they find it too challenging to leave.  The idea of not being on Facebook is perplexing to many and does not jive with their idea of what it means to live in the modern world.

The truth is, many don't even want to try going without Facebook.  The idea that one is missing out on something by leaving Facebook compels many to stay.  The fact of the matter is that leaving Facebook for some is terrifying.  Facebook, for many, is their window to the outside world.  Although many people spend close to $100 a month on a smart phone, the idea of communicating with friends and family outside of Facebook is somehow absurd.  More and more people are stating that they do not like to talk on the phone, but would rather text or use Facebook to keep in touch with others. 

Among those who owned cellphones, 42 percent said they used their device to stave off boredom and 13 percent pretended to be occupied with their phones to stave off unwanted attention from others.
And what’s happened to voice? It turns out that 53 percent of Americans still prefer to talk to one another on their phones. Source: New York Times
Furthermore, in a recent article out of the dailymail stated that 1 in 5 residents of the UK would rather use Facebook than talk on the phone. 

Most people aged between 25 and 34 prefer to contact friends and family online than pick up the telephone - mobile or landline - according to broadband provider Talk Talk.

Perhaps, we as people are forgetting what it is like to speak to one another.  What does this mean for our future generations?  While many claim that it is harmless, psychologically there is some harm when people do not want to talk to each other and somehow call it being social.

How much time do you spend on Facebook?

When one spends so much time hooked up to the internet, whether it be from the phone or from the home computer, one will likely spend much of that time on Facebook.  Very few people even consider how much time that they spend on (a)social media sites.  With such time being spent absorbed into these sites, there is little wonder why people may feel the want to create a fake profile (or profiles).  After all, it was so much fun to create the first one.  Furthermore, much of what was on the first profile was a fantasy, why not take it further in your second or third profile?

If a person clocked how much time they spent on Facebook and asked themselves if they feel that they don't have the time to achieve their goals, they would invariably be quite surprised with the result.  Having two or more profiles on Facebook is especially burdensome when one considers what they could achieve with the time that they spend on the site. 

Have you had more than one profile on any such website?  Do you know someone who does?  How did that affect you/them?  Are you ready to give a life without Facebook a try?
  There's nothing to be afraid of.  I have received e-mails from and have spoken with many people who have left the world of (a)social media behind and have begun to live more abundant lives.  Perhaps it is now your turn.

If you would like help putting Facebook behind you, or want to talk with your Facebook use, please e-mail

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Internet can be a depressing place...

Lately I have been using the internet a lot to search for information on a wide variety of subjects.  However, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes searching for information on the internet is a pretty depressing endeavor.  It is also something that I have found has affected how I feel about myself, my current situation, and my outlook on life.  I have started to come to realize that the internet itself is not always good for a person's well being.

I have always thought that the internet was a great place for information, and I still do.  However, the information that the internet is great for is not the kind of information that is clouded with negative opinion.  It is the kind of information that is fact based.  Sites like Wikipedia, Wikitravel, and the like provide a person with a wealth of information that expands the mind and answers many questions that one may have.  However, there are many sites that make a person feel that life is a depressing ordeal, and I have begun to stay away from those sites.

Some of the biggest culprits are news websites.  News stories are not just written in a fact-based manner.  Instead, there is a great amount of fluff thrown in, along with the reporter's own spin.  Much of this fluff is to make a person feel compelled to continue reading (or watching).  News media oftentimes makes a person feel worried or tells a person that they need to continue to check back.  Yet, I have found that not paying attention to these sites has not hurt me in any way.  In fact, not having to worry about the possible doom and gloom of the world has helped me to feel better about myself and my life.  The world has yet to end, despite all the negativity that is out there.  Many news stories that proclaim that the world is an unsafe place are rarely spot on.  In fact, I have been to many parts of the world that were deemed unsafe or chaotic and realized that the media was highly over-exaggerating.  Newsmedia exists to make money, and money is made by enticing viewers and readers to continue to view advertisements. 

The news media is not the only part of the internet that is depressing however.  There are many internet forums full of people who proclaim that everything that one wants to do is a bad idea.  Many people state that there is no sense on trying to achieve something because of how others have failed at it.  However, very few of these sources explain why others have failed.  Many websites proclaim how horrific the economy is, how unemployment is so high, or how the college educated will never find jobs.  While these are serious concerns, reading about them and lamenting about them only leads to depression and apathy.  Do we really need to subject ourselves to that?

I have often spoken on the subject of (a)social media such as Facebook and Twitter being depressing.  I found Twitter especially to be a very depressing site.  Yet the media desperately wants everyone on Twitter.  In fact, almost every news source vehemently advertises their Twitter feed.  Furthermore, many of these media sources have huge sums of money invested in sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. With that in mind, it is apparent that they have a financial interest in getting you to spend time on these sites.

I strongly believe that what we allow to come into our minds greatly influences who we become.  I feel that I have become a stronger and more caring individual by not subjecting myself to a barrage of negativity.  I have seen people break down and become totally complacent about life due to negativity.  Sadly, many of these people are the type that will spend hours a day on sites like Facebook, because the imaginary world that exists on (a)social media is a safe haven from what they deem to be the harsh realities of everyday life.  The cycle of depression does not end, because negative feelings continue to emerge when the individual realizes that they spent obscene amounts of time on Facebook and that they are constantly comparing themselves to their friends and family -- people who they feel that they can not live up to.

On the internet we are constantly shown these cultural myths of people who live perfect lives.  We see people who are young, wealthy, and live in beautiful places.  We see people with lives that we wish we had.  Whether it is young adults that live in the East Village in New York and travel all around the world on their parents dime, or a business owner in his 30s who owns real estate all over the world.  Yet, these stories rarely state that such lives are largely a myth.  While there are many people who live in amazing houses and eat out in fine restaurants, we do not hear that they are also often unhappy or long for something more.  This is because many such stories only want to present us with one side of the picture.  This is not complete information.  Nobody's life is perfect, yet when we spend time on the internet or viewing media that shows such "perfect" lives, we tend to compare ourselves to them.  We see ourselves as inadequate.  The truth is, you are not inadequate.  There is no reason you should ever feel the need to compare yourself to another person, especially a person who exists largely in fantasy.  Yet on the internet is it almost impossible to not compare yourself with others.

The internet has become an obsession with people.  People are glued to their phones and computers everywhere.  Whether it is in the classroom or at the store, people can not get themselves to look away from the internet.  I do believe that there is a sociological problem with this, and I think that in the future, people are going to realize that.  However, at this point in time it amounts almost to heresy to say that there is a problem with our cell phone addicted culture.  People are not just staring at a screen; people are comparing themselves to others constantly; constantly feeding themselves information that is largely based on fantasy.  People are continually putting negativity into their minds.  We, as a society, have a problem with depression.  Perhaps this is one reason why people are so depressed.  When a person lives their life on the internet comparing themselves to other people and reading stories about how the world is such a horrible place, depression will follow.

Contrary to popular belief, choosing to not read negative information will not make you less intelligent.  There is enough information about the negativity of the world around you at all times.  Why subject yourself to more of it?  If you are social in any way, you will find out that there are economic problems, that there is unemployment, or that war is going on around the world.  Feeding it constantly to yourself or being glued to news media and (a)social networks is not going to make you feel better about your life or protect you.  Instead, focus on the positive things that make you feel good about yourself and your life.  Focus on your family, religion, the people you love, helping others, being a good role model, and achieving your goals.  There is a great amount that a person can accomplish in the time that they spend viewing negative information.  Setting yourself free from such a life is truly a way to make yourself feel better about the world around you. 

I highly recommend taking some time and going somewhere where you can not use the internet.  Somewhere where you are free from the distractions and negativity of the world.  There are many places out there that are not too expensive.  Consider spending a couple nights camping, whether it is in a tent or in a cabin somewhere, and keep the cell phone off.  Consider staying at a bed and breakfast without internet.  Plan a vacation to a primitive place.  Or, consider unplugging the computers for a day, or turning the cell phone off.  It is sometimes hard to unplug from the internet, but it is a truly refreshing experience.  Take that time to reflect on who you want to be and what you want to spend your time doing.  After a couple of days, see if you feel more refreshed.  Don't think of it as a chore, but think of it is a time to meditate and to feel better:  A chance to detox.  Many people honestly feel that there is no problem with being glued to the internet and the phone twenty four hours a day, but there are some who are starting to wonder if such a life is anywhere near the ideal.