I think that blessed Facebook was created as a way of swapping kitten pictures and for students to exchange idle gossip, and in that, it did remarkably well. Even in its later manifestations as SmugBook or the vehicle to declare loss of bodily lard, acquisition of sleep, self-pity or endless complaints about the job, it was not too bad. Tiresome, yes - but not bad. Even recent developments which cause international conglomerations to clamour for Facebook pages next to the spotty, smug or self-deprecating - that isn't too bad, if a bit tedious in the Spam Box.
There is, I have discovered, a very dark side to Facebook. I would even go so far as to say something far stronger, that it seems to be the place that - if you want to discover evil - you only need log on.
In my personal and professional life, I am fast gaining insights into the dark phenomena rife on Facebook. I am seeing people meting out such hatred and hurtfulness that I wonder if ever love could have existed between such people. If you want to become unhealthy obsessive about other human, you need only sit in a darkened room way too late and scavenge through their 'facebook' and get all the juicy updates. I have seen such pain and anger, not because people have been assaulted to their faces, but because they have read things on Facebook.
Once upon a time, relationships would hit the skids and they either ended or mended. Now, this noble vehicle has become the macabre theatre of marital breakdown, bullying, abuse, libel and grotesque accusation. In the midst of Farmville and amusingly doctored imagery, you will now discover the fruits of utter hatred and its yield of despair. In the privacy of your own home, or indeed anywhere on earth as a result of smart-phones, you can say just about anything to or about anyone. The fact is, it seems to be the case that you can do more damage with a smartphone and a Facebook account than you can with a hammer and some measure of malice.
The world will learn too late that what gets typed gets read and what gets read cannot quickly be forgotten - less so when you would wish it to be. Eventually, my own children will ask if they can have a Facebook account, the panacea of all life - and to be honest, I think I would rather send them unaccompanied to Jim'll Fix it than expose them to such a damaging arena. I thank God that I have never been a Facebook victim, but I know a growing number of those who are. Added to this, if you are not a Facebook victim, you may find that a daft outburst a year ago after a drink with friends will prevent you getting job, or else a careless comment under the wrong settings will cost you the job you do have.
The solution is unclear, short of making the mistake of parents of teenage boys with certain editions from the printed press and banning it. The Church needs a voice in this dangerous world, a world made more dangerous by people who are not inherently bad or even intentionally malicious, but who simply have an outlet that they don't fully understand.