Facing the Realities of Facebook

Once, without my knowledge or permission, I was set up with a facebook account.  It was only with great effort that I had it pulled down.  A picture was taken of me at an event and used on the front page.  The picture was okay, but imagine my consternation at someone having the capacity to post anything they pleased on a page that they managed in my name.

Sunday’s message was from Proverbs 22:1 which says “A good name is of more value than great riches . . .”  My problem with the whole facebook phenomena is that I am keenly aware of people whose lives have been ruined by the distribution of information that has carelessly been posted in the public domain.  Certainly, there is much harmless and sometimes helpful information that is shared, but what of the capacity to destroy.  Almost weekly I hear of broken marriages, lost jobs, ruined reputations, suicides, deep depression, slander, spoiled job opportunities, and unholy alliances that can be traced to online communication.  The key word in all of this is “accountability”.  Back to my story about the mysterious facebook account that was set up with my picture and my name.  I am sure that whoever did that had no bad intentions.  There was nothing posted that was embarassing or hurtful.  They may have even intended to help me “get with the times”.  Suppose however that the intention had been evil.  To this day I have no idea who set the site up.  I am uncertain that I will ever know.  I am not aware of any means whereby I could find out.  If that person had intended to harm me they could have done so and then vanished into cyberspace without ever having to face any sort of accountability.  Indirect communication by its very nature produces the potential of damage to reputations.  Since things may be published which are not necessarily directly communicated to those of whom they speak, there is no opportunity for correction.  It would be like publishing a magazine article about someone and offering them absolutely no opportunity to comment on what is written.  In such communication no other perspectives are permitted.  This is tabloid journalism at its worst.  The intent is to say what one wishes with no intention of any balance or corrective viewpoints.

Now I should say that many simply keep up with friends and former acquaintances and see the whole thing as harmless.  To them I simply ask that you would be wise in what you put into print.  Think of words out in the public domain as you would think of words quoted from you and placed in a newspaper interview.  Imagine your agony when misquoted in such a way that your meaning is completely missed.  May I also ask that you remember my remarks when you see yourself or others hurt deeply by this new means of communication.  A good name really is more valuable than great riches and a reputation really is more to be desired than silver or gold.

Dan Wooldridge

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