Teen Bribed to Quit Facebook
A story popped up today about a Dad who made an interesting deal with his 14-year-old daughter: if she quit Facebook for five months, he’d pay her $200. This news brought in all sorts of commentary about parenting and Facebook in general.
I see this as a double-edged sword. The daughter will be off Facebook for some time, but what then? Will she break an apparent addiction? Or will she merely go back to her old ways and try to cash in on another $200 deal? Maybe she’ll ask for $250.
This sort of debate seems to be the center of the discussion. Nobody is talking about the addictive aspects of Facebook and the need many adults have to be on the network all day and night, just to see what their old high school chums are doing. These are people who they would never normally see or talk to But that they are now in constant contact with, as if they were still in high school.
Facebook has a lot of uses. It acts as an ersatz dating site for middle-aged divorcees looking for someone to hook up with. It’s a useful way for family members who are scattered around the country to stay connected. For kids, Facebook is helpful in keeping up with school assignments and discussing educational matters. For companies, Facebook can be used to promote a brand name or product to other Facebook users. Finally, Facebook is a great way to waste a lot of time.
And no, I do not have a Facebook account. I have always been convinced that it is nothing more than AOL on steroids.
What’s interesting to me is the dealmaker’s nonchalance about quitting cold turkey for $200. I’m suspicious. Facebook is too much like cocaine. Nobody walks away from cocaine when they are getting perceived benefit from it. And the benefit of cocaine and Facebook do seem to be similar.
Back in the 1980s, when cocaine was a topic of conversation in the mainstream media, the best description I ever heard was in TIME magazine. An addict described it as giving them the feeling that they were a success in life. This was despite the fact that they never accomplished anything and were just psychologically buoyed by the cocaine.
Facebook has a similar effect, it seems to me. People think that they have all these pals, old and new. They see themselves as some sort of big shot with a lot of genuine friends. But these are not friends; they are words on a screen creating an imaginary world. This sustains the person in a way similar to cocaine.
Facebook Privacy Changes
And I should mention that I hate writing this sort of column because there are some readers who use Facebook for legitimate reasons and they will take offense to my generalities. But there are also the Facebook addicts who may stumble on this article if someone posts the link on their wall. None see themselves as addicts and tend to stay in denial while lashing out at critics like myself. I have the most respect for people who openly admit that they have a Facebook problem.
Now, I have to assume that the girl making the $200 was a terrible addict or the situation would not have come up in the first place. She must have been on Facebook all the time. If she can go cold turkey, which I find hard to believe, then there is hope for all the Facebook users out there. And, if that’s true, then the possibility does indeed exist that Facebook could fold over night.
While I do not think it will fold overnight, the idea is worth wishing for. I’m getting tired of finding some cool software that I can’t use because the company wants me to sign in with my non-existent Facebook account. Even if I had an account, why should I make it the centerpiece of everything else?
Whatever the case, I’m hoping the girl keeps her promise and shows that it can be done without getting the shakes. Otherwise we are all doomed. You go girl.[source:pcmag]