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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why People Should Not "Spot" or "Be Spotted" on Facebook

It seems hard to believe, but Facebook is ten years old this year.  The social media giant celebrated that milestone earlier in the year, and over the course of ten years, it is a juggernaut that has connected people with their old friends, introduced an entire generation to millions of puzzle games, and made Mark Zuckerberg one rich man. 

Oh, sure, the social network has endured its fair share of criticism.  It is hard to keep up with the layout changes that take place every ten months or so.  I am also not a fan of having to refuse game requests from eager gamers who want me to send them lives on Candy Crush. 

But despite those minor issues, I am quite happy with using Facebook.  I also use Google+ and Twitter semi-frequently, but as far as mechanics go, I am most used to Facebook.  I do like the fact that I can use the messenger service to chat to people, I like the fact that I can comment on several different things at once, and I have to say that Facebook seems to be the best place to present this blog.

(Note that I said present, and not promote.  I am NOT giving Facebook fifty bucks to create an ad.)

But one thing that people need to learn about Facebook (and other social media sites for that matter) is that they are only as fun as you make them to be. 

For instance, if you're constantly spamming people's newsfeeds with every single article ever written, that isn't much fun.  When every single status is attacking somebody else, that isn't much fun.

And when people hide behind screennames to openly bully people, or slander a person's reputation online, that is most definitely not fun.

I mean, let's face it.  Facebook has nearly one billion accounts in its system.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that all one billion accounts belong to one billion people.  After all, Facebook is banned in some countries (North Korea for example).  In all likelihood, some people out there have more than one account.  Some I know use two accounts to get more freebies on Facebook games, but some use a secondary account to cause mischief on Facebook groups and people's personal pages.

And then there is the issue of Facebook groups that allow people to make anonymous comments about anyone they want without revealing their identities.  To me, groups like that raise an immediate red flag, and it allows people to say basically whatever they want without any sort of repercussions whatsoever.

There is a particular group that has originated in my hometown of all places that is exactly like that.

Perhaps your town might have one of these kinds of sites.  I have seen several for other communities as well that basically work the same way as the one based out of my town.

They usually go by the name "Insert Hometown Name Here" Spotted.  It is a group that people can post on anonymously (under the name of the group) about any kind of topic they want.  But beware.  People who comment don't get that same anonymity.  Their names are in full view for everyone who is a part of the Spotted groups to see.

You can just imagine the powder keg that could explode in a scenario like that one.  It would be easy for someone to post a comment calling someone out in a disgusting manner, and not worry because their post doesn't reveal who they are.  I often wonder if some even do it just to sit back and watch the fireworks fly between other people who get into arguments based on said anonymous posts.  I wouldn't be surprised, let's put it that way.

As far as these "Hometown Spotted" groups go, I will say that in some cases, the sites can be a great source of info - if used correctly.  If you're trying to sell an item, posting ads for apartments, asking locals for assistance in finding the best restaurants, or are searching for a lost pet, then I don't see much of an issue with that.  And for all I know, that very well could have been the intention that the creators of the Spotted groups had - a forum run for people of the community by people of the community.

So, why do the initial comments have to be shrouded in secrecy?

Well, some people like to stir the pot.  They like to call people out on bad behaviour, call people derogatory names, and make fun of people who they feel are different from them. 

They're basically your everyday, run of the mill, yellow-bellied cowards.

I didn't even know that there were sites like this until someone pointed out to me that someone had used the site to verbally attack myself and my other co-workers in the department of the store that I work at.  And the comments that this person left on the Spotted site were not constructive at all.  They were downright mean.

What was worse, the people who commented underneath the post were not only making nasty jabs to the original poster, but they were attacking each other in the comments section.  Some of my co-workers tried to step in and diffuse the situation, but some people just went and turned on them.  I read the whole thread (which seemed to take forever given just how many people were responding), and I could not believe how one comment caused an entire group of people to turn on each other.  I had to turn away in disgust because I did not like what I was seeing.  If I had the ability, I'd have blocked the group entirely.

You see, the Spotted groups to me only exist for one purpose and one purpose only.  It is a group designed for a certain group of people who are bored or frustrated with life to post controversial questions and statements which only serve to divide the community and get people angry with each other for no reason.

I know that I cannot stop these sites from popping up.  But I do have the choice not to use them.

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