Editorial – Facebook Made Me Do It

Facebook is like the difficult kid in high school who spends most of his spare time in detention. At once intriguing and controversial, the social media giant is always in some kind of trouble with watchdogs. Privacy concerns and worries about how It’s affecting interpersonal relationships keep Facebook in the headlines constantly.

Yet despite the bad press, Facebook grows?and other forms of social media, no longer a ?new? phenomenon, continue to develop as innovative new ways of sharing thoughts and information spread across the web. Twitter, Pinterest, CaringBridge, Google+, DropBox?these and countless more are integrating with faster and web-savvier browsers, laptops, smart phones, and tablet PCs.

The latest on the Facebook-alert front comes from a California State University professor and psychologist, Dr. Larry Rosen. He’s worried that Facebook is turning teens into narcissists.

There’s plenty of fodder for jokes here?many teens can be legendary for their narcissistic tendencies?but I’m not laughing. Dr. Rosen’s concerns may make a point, but the endless fear of Facebook and other social media needs to stop.

?Facebook has, without a doubt, changed the landscape of how people interact with each other,? Rosen told reporters. That’s no exaggeration. Social media, together with new technological breakthroughs in smart phones and tablets, may well be as earth-shattering a development as the creation of the printing press or the discovery that the earth moves ?round the sun. And That’s why we need to embrace it, not run away from it; like it or not, social media is going to transform the way we communicate, and working with it is the only way to ensure it remains a servant of humanity.

Rosen’s research showed ?a relationship between heavy Facebook use and narcissism in teens,? The Huffington Post reported. Of course, while people with self-aggrandizing tendencies might flock to social media, that doesn’t mean Facebook causes the condition. At the same time, it doesn’t mean there’s no cause-effect at all. As Rosen explained in an interview with Canada A.M., we act differently when we’re interacting behind screens because we feel as though there’s no real-life person on the other end. Rosen told Canada A.M. that bad behaviour isn’t met with the filters of real life: ?You simply keep going on and doing what You’re doing.?

Granted, Facebook may perpetuate negative tendencies. But it also accentuates positive ones, something Rosen acknowledges as well. In fact, his same research suggests that Facebook helps teens become ?nice, social and engaged.?

In other words, Facebook makes us bad. Except when it makes us good.

Sounds like just about any other communications medium?or any technological development, for that matter?since the dawn of history.

Social media is here to stay. Like any other platform of communication, it presents challenges as it interacts with people’s tendencies toward selfishness, lying, manipulation, self-aggrandizement, and the like. But like any other platform of communication, it also offers opportunities for people’s better natures to shine through. Like all technological developments, it can be both beneficial and harmful, depending upon the user.

It’s time to stop fearing the brave new world That’s opening up, and instead focus on embracing it. And if we concern ourselves with bringing humanness to the medium, rather than fearing it will leach our humanity from us, we’ll create a legacy of integration and responsible use that will continue long after the new generation grows up.