Rants. Raves. T-shirts. All observations on the peculiarity of Provo life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Facebook and MySpace: The Devil's Social Networks

My stake president told us to get off of Facebook and MySpace this Sunday. No explanation. He mentioned chat rooms in passing, but came down hard on these networking sites. So, I did. I cancelled my Facebook account. I'm willing to trust him here - I haven't had any problems with it, but if it's a big enough deal to announce in stake conference, then I'll take his word for it.

This topic has come up lately in conversation, and in another board I frequent - a friend's stake president did the same thing. Before you go any further, watch this clip from The Daily Show
on the subject. Many kudos to Optimistic for bringing it to my attention.

There seems to be a couple of things that people are worried about:
1. Sexual predators - a problem, yes, but nothing unique to online social networks. If this is the reasoning, then message boards and blogs probably need to go, too.
2. Kids forming "virtual" friendships instead of real friendships - a reasonable worry, I guess. A market researcher did a study and found that, to a great degree, the time spent garnering "virtual friends" is time that would otherwise be spent alone watching TV. That's kind of how I feel about it, but I understand the worry.

Austin said he quit his MySpace account a while ago because it went too far - weird people wanting to be his "friend," people masquerading as something they're not, bots trying to generate traffic to porn sites. I'm not sure what's wrong with Facebook, though... it seems to be a bit more on the tame side. I like Facebook because it has allowed me to stay in touch with friends from high school, that I haven't had any other contact with.

Has anybody else gotten this counsel from Priesthood leaders? Did you close your account? I closed mine, but I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has thoughts on the topic.


Optimistic. said...

Apparently my stake president also counseled us to delete our Facebook accounts (being the same stake president as yours - that's what I get for not attending stake conference). I agree with him. It's a good idea to unplug once in a while even if you aren't just creating "fake" friendships. Only associating with your real friends online makes those friendships just as fake as talking to people you don't know on Facebook. It's dangerous. I feel like I spend too much time online as it is. I try to visit people I know in person rather than just talk with them online. Get out and live life a little. Get away from the computer screen.

But be sure to read the 100 Hour Board still. Nothing wrong with that.

kaua87 said...

I'm torn between how I feel about the whole myspace/facebook deal. My stake president didn't say we couldn't use it but encouraged us to be wise in our dealings with it online. I do agree that Myspace is pretty scummy and is just a click away from any porn site, etc. There are also the weird messages from guys that are like 30 and single and asking if I want to meet up with them. "Hey Hot Stuff!! Message me sometime and I'll show you a good time baby doll." Yes, there are always messages like those but if you're smart enough you won't respond back and just ignore them. Mainly I just enjoyed Myspace because in all honesty most people live double lives, their online self is never the same as their face to face self, and since I'm nosey I would love going to other people's pages and see what's REALLY going on in their lives. However, I can live without Myspace, it can be dangerous and it honestly is a waste of time. Facebook though, well it's going to be awhile before I delete that account. I am an addicted facebooker through and through, but I think facebook is far different than myspace. It's alot more tame, porn sites aren't popping up everywhere, it's a great way to meet new friends (granted you do need to go out and talk to them in person and not just online.) and it's a great way to stay in touch with highschool friends. I LOVE facebook. Maybe if I felt facebook was a tool of the devil I would delete my account, but I don't see anything wrong with it. If you're looking for trouble you'll find it anywhere, whether that be on facebook or just on BYU campus, if your looking for it you'll find it.

Smash said...

5 missionaries from my lil bro's mission were recently sent home for having myspace profiles. I use myspace, I don't use it for porn or sex or making virutal friends, and I will not take down my profile or be punished for something I did not do.

Manos said...

Well, I think I am going to play the part of the Devil's Advocate on this one. But before I get started, I just want to say that I believe that the church leaders are inspired, and that we need to follow their direction. Thus, I am not taking the position that someone should blow off what the stake president says.

However, there are a lot of people who are opposed to Social Networking sites, especially MySpace, and I wish to address this.

Back in August of Last year The Economist published an article about video games that I would like to quote:

Scepticism of new media is a tradition with deep roots, going back at least as far as Socrates' objections to written texts, outlined in Plato's Phaedrus. Socrates worried that relying on written texts, rather than the oral tradition, would “create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.” (He also objected that a written version of a speech was no substitute for the ability to interrogate the speaker, since, when questioned, the text “always gives one unvarying answer”. His objection, in short, was that books were not interactive. Perhaps Socrates would have thought more highly of video games.)

Novels were once considered too low-brow for university literature courses, but eventually the disapproving professors retired. Waltz music and dancing were condemned in the 19th century; all that twirling was thought to be “intoxicating” and “depraved”, and the music was outlawed in some places. Today it is hard to imagine what the fuss was about. And rock and roll was thought to encourage violence, promiscuity and satanism; but today even grannies buy Coldplay albums.

People are just conditioned to be afraid of change. Those who haven't grown up with something are just much less accepting of it.

shibbster said...

i agree whole-heartedly with landon. people are afriad of change, expecially those older folk. i think they must have gotten a whiff of the terrible things that can happen on said website, but the same can be said about the INTERNET in general. "there are sexual predators out there. so
don't use it." i, for one, am not going to cancel my facebook memebership- it's simply there as a good joke. and to keep in touch with my homies.

L'Afro said...

I'm slightly embarassed that I have a Facebook account, but I like being able to talk to my friends from high school again.

Which, seems a bit of a paradox in and of itself because if I couldn't stay in touch with them after graduation, that should say something about our friendship.

I don't know. But I've already experienced the weirdness of having to shoot people an e-mail who want to add me as a friend and I have no clue who they are.

New Yorker said...

optimistic and l'afro nice to see you guys here as well. Yeah this is something I did a long time ago was to delete those accounts. Never put my real picture on any of them, but still. They reeked of "the dark side".

Jake said...

I definatly think priesthood leaders have a point in saying that people need to be careful using a myspace or facebook account, but to tell everyone to close their accounts is just silly. Its like saying that no one should use the internet at all because there are bad things out there in cyber space. Maybe I am just a rebel, but I will not close my accounts. They are good ways to keep in touch with people that attended high school with me, mission companions, and others. There are certainly things on those sites that are questionable and even objectionable, but as long as common sense and good judgement are used I don't think there is any harm.

Ben Crowder said...

Sounds like we're in the same stake. When I got home from stake conference I too canceled my Facebook account, even though I didn't see it as particularly dangerous to me personally (since it's nothing like MySpace). And it felt good to obey my priesthood leader. Sure, I lost things, but what I gained was more important. Now that it's been almost a month since I canceled my account, I see looking back that I haven't lost as much as I thought. In fact, I haven't even noticed its absence. There is life outside of Facebook. Really. :)

Christa said...

It's so wise to get off of those sites! A while back as a reporter for a paper here in California, I covered some meetings held by local PTAs warning high schlool and middle school parents of the evils of MySpace. Seriously, it was frightening -- I wouldn't go near those with a 10-foot pole!

I'm a fan of ldslinkup.com, though. Have you heard of it? It's like "MySpace for Mormons." Again, anything in excess can get out of hand; it's just a matter of being wise about it -- and Linkup's a great place to keep in touch with people from different wards and eras (like my old BYU pals!).