shock horror facebook?

Recently I received a letter from my son’s school asking parents to back them up in supporting a no Facebook policy. With the latest fuss about what can or can’t be posted on Facebook, I see cries for a boycott on my timeline and in the news.

Well as far as I’m concerned Facebook is a tool for communication. Yes, it can be used for nasty things. So can the telephone. So can the mail. So can every other form of communication.

But it can also be used for amazing positive things. I find messages on my timeline asking for support, rising up against bullies, praying for ill children, arranging meetups, sharing ideas, building connections … try googling Israel we love you and looking for images to see an amazing campaign that was made possible via Facebook. Imwithshea is a Facebook page that’s promoting awareness of the cruel effects of bullying, especially via text messages. There are so many more out there, ways that the world is changing for the better because we can all communicate so much more easily. That’s not even considering the personal level, where we can keep in contact with family who live elsewhere or friends we don’t see very often, or the role Facebook can play in an emergency, where it can act as a central point of contact to reassure loved ones.

Facebook is a method of communication, not in itself good or evil. All it means is that anything people can do is amplified. For good and for bad.

These new communication technologies aren’t going to disappear. We’re rapidly becoming more and more connected. Banning our children from Facebook, or staying away from it ourselves, because we don’t agree with some of the stuff posted on there, does not present a viable solution. All that does is abandon the place to those who do want to use it for unsavoury purposes.

Instead, I believe that we need to take over the place, claim it for the positive tool that it can be and refuse to cave in to those who insist on misusing it. Teach our children to be safe online, to communicate well with others and to use these new tools for the benefit of others, not to hurt them.

As the saying might have gone, had it been said today: “Why should the devil have all the best communication tools?”