(NOTE: this is one of my earlier notes. I really thought it said all I had to say on the topic.)
This was inspired by the superb South Park ep on Facebook. The episode depicted how integral the site has become to society. The episode, in a rare move, didn’t really judge the site. It judged dependence on it but not the actual site. And they captured the site perfectly. Didn’t get one detail wrong.
It made me think about something: do I think Facebook is helpful in social interactions if the user is, shall we say, behind the curve. Do I think it is a help or a hindrance? I of course, am able to speak having Asperger Syndrome and being a perpetual user. Hell, one of the first things I got for my iPhone was the fb app! So, how do I feel?
It’s not easy to say so I’ll put it this way: absolutely provided the user in question wants to improve. However, it can be a tool for burrowing further into one’s own hole if they wish.
Let’s start on that dark note actually. I hope we’re all familiar with the phenomenon known as the “internet aspie”. I’m not talking about guys like me who were actually diagnosed. I have the doctor’s note folks. I’m talking about assholes who are assholes but who can’t just be assholes so as assholes they decide to do the asshole thing of taking a real disorder and like the assholes they are, use it as an excuse for being an asshole. To quote Cracked “People cringe when they hear this term because they know that a large number of the teenagers claiming Asperger’s are, in fact, merely dicks.”
These people are too scared and too bullied to face the real world to be blunt. They want to crawl into their hole. What they don’t get is the fact that, guess what: nobody cares about your damn dog but you!
These people are going to burrow into their hidey holes no matter what. It’s a hard and fast rule. And guess which hole they choose? Facebook. Facebook could support itself on the crumbs of society. Hell most of the too irritating for words members of the incredibly awful wrongplanet are internet aspies. People who want nothing to do with society can use facebook as an excuse. They have “friends”.
But this isn’t about them. This is about those who actually want to succeed. And for them, damn do I love facebook. I’m speaking very heavily from experience. If the internet is our great equalizer then facebook is a subtle tilt of the playing field towards normalcy. Why?
Of those I know closely, I know a few who don’t use it mind you. My dad also doesn’t use it but give him time. My mother not only uses it but she’s addicted. If she wants to deny it, well I can quickly kill that by advising her mutual friends to check her activity, though she was an early adopter to the internet anyway. The key is, everybody uses it. Everybody. And facebook placing everybody on the same field means that aspies aren’t allowed to burrow as easily. The people they deal with can be anybody. So long segmentation.
And thus facebook allows the true dream: a simulator of social interaction with real consequences. A way to discreetly learn about people’s interests. Facebook can be a staging ground for real friendships. People learn how to deal with other people, real other people, in a safe way.
It can encourage the worst, but it can bring out the best. Yay.