Facebook and Common Decency
by VS Perdigon Jr
When Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook, he had no idea 800,000,000 people around the world (and counting) would LIKE it. Without even a bachelor’s degree yet (at the time) in Harvard University, he provided the whole world with a tool unmatched in its power to link millions of people on a one-on-one basis. Long lost friends rediscovered each other. Total strangers turned into elbow acquaintances. President Barack Obama could be sent a message to by any man on the street within seconds. Tomes of information can be disseminated at almost zero cost in no time at all.
Facebook made the Arab Spring possible in the same vein that text messaging made EDSA II happen in 2001; radio, EDSA I in 1986; newspaper, the Propaganda Movement in the 1880s; and printing, the Renaissance in the 1400s. The speed of communication and social change are directly proportional. In the future if someone invents a more powerful tool than Facebook, we can imagine billions of people effecting instantaneous change perhaps not just around the world but even on the moon and Mars, the next targets of man’s colonization.
The information superhighway first entered Aquinas University of Legazpi in March 1996 when we inaugurated the Internet Room in the Main Library. Today, we have wi-fi in the campus. As I predicted then in the Aquinas Bulletin, the Internet would become an ordinary tool in our time just as the calculator was in the 1970s.
Facebook indeed is a powerful tool. As the author of “Spiderman” wrote, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Any user of Facebook has great power. Any user of Facebook, therefore, has great responsibility. We owe it to the inventor. We must use Facebook for the intentions of Mr. Zuckerberg:
“For me and my colleagues, the most important thing is that we create an open information flow for people . . . The thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open . . . It's OK to break things to make them better." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Zuckerberg)
Opening up the world and making things better. That is his mission. “To break things” means to open up. It does not stop there. By opening it up, he wants the world to be better. People who use Facebook to put others down are not living up to that mission. They make the world worse. They make others miserable by announcing to everyone the negative about their victims. Notably, the negative they present about others is not always true. If at all, it is an exceptional moment of inadvertent mistake which the misusers of Facebook pounce upon either for self-aggrandisement or simple malice.
As a rule of thumb, the first course of action to correct a mistake is to refer it to proper persons in a private dialogue, not to outrightly broadcast it on Facebook. If we fail in that regard, we degrade more ourselves and not much the victim of our irresponsibility.
We are very fortunate to live in a time of superb technological advances. It is our duty to be very responsible. Facebook in our hands, like an ordinary kitchen knife, can be used for good or bad. Let us use it to promote the truth, understanding and friendship. We owe it to choose good no longer so much to its inventor as to ourselves; not so much for anything other than common decency.
Posted on: 02.21.2012
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