A varied and sometimes erratic record of what I'm learning inside and outside of the classroom

Friday, November 19, 2010

Future Shock & Facebook Etiquette

In Digital Civilization class on Thursday we discussed the ideas of Alvin Toffler as set forth in his book entitled Future Shock. In his essay entitled "Future Shock Re-assessed," Richard A. Slaughter explains,
Writing during the late 1960s Toffler summarised this thesis thus: in three short decades between now and the turn of the next millennium, millions of psychologically normal people will experience an abrupt collision with the future. Affluent, educated citizens of the world’s richest and most technically advanced nations, they will fall victim to tomorrow’s most menacing malady: the disease of change. Unable to keep up with the supercharged pace of change, brought to the edge of breakdown by incessant demands to adapt to novelty, many will plunge into future shock. For them the future will have arrived too soon.
So basically, the idea of future shock is that the world around us is changing so quickly that we are unable to keep up; besieged by a tide of technological information, we are left confused and scrambling, trying to understand what just happened--and what keeps happening. Call it cultural whiplash, if you will. I'll admit it--I've gotten Future Shock pretty bad. Sometimes it makes me want to lie down with my feet up and a cold compress on my forehead, just like they teach you in Boy Scouts. (Not that I'm a Boy Scout or anything, but with five brothers going through the program, you pick up a thing or two.) Anyway, an idea we discussed in conjunction with this was that the constant change makes it difficult to establish social norms and rules of conduct for Internet interaction. Now, we can all see where this is leading: Facebook. Out of curiosity, and in the name of bettering the lot of mankind by educating the world (okay, at least the readers of this post) on Facebook etiquette, I have searched through and compiled a list of  a few of the more popular results (taken mainly from these three sites):


  1. Friending: Don't friend people you don't know; if you do, at least provide them with a legitimate explanation for why you are doing so. You are also free to ignore people who do this to you. Defriending? Acceptable--the defriended individual is not notified, and if it's someone who has a lot of friends and/or you don't interact with much anyway, they probably won't even notice. Also, don't friend anyone you wouldn't be comfortable with seeing your photos or status updates.
  2. Posting: The general consensus seems to be quality rather than quantity. Friends may lose interest with hourly updates. Also, be careful what you post; that nasty vent about that mean thing your boss said to you yesterday may come back to bite you. In the same vein, avoid sharing information about your personal life that would be better kept private. Don't post anything that you wouldn't say in person.
  3. Photos: Be courteous; don't upload and tag unflattering/embarrassing photos of other people without permission.
While reading through all of this I kept thinking that it is important to remember the face behind the interface, especially on social networking sites like Facebook. These are people we're dealing with here, not profiles made up of pixels. (Wow--I'm on an alliterative bent today, aren't I?) Common courtesy can successfully make the leap to cyberspace with a little bit of effort. Some things shouldn't change.

1 comment:

  1. I like what you posted. I've read of several instances where people have lost jobs because of Facebook. Today's job market looks heavily into what people are doing with social media.
    Here's an article I read just yesterday about this subject: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/social.media/11/24/facebook.profile.shots.netiquette/index.html?iref=NS1

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