This week I learned something quite alarming: according to a German website, not having a Facebook account could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer. The claim is based on the fact that Anders Breivik, the Norwegian shooter, used Myspace for social networking, and the newer Aurora shooter used something called Adultfriendfinder. The fact they weren’t on FB might have warned people they were crazy, apparently. OK, this is a lunatic fringe claim, but it does illustrate the sort of momentum that FB has acquired and the idea that if you are not there you must be at least slightly anti-social.
I do have a FB account, as it happens, although it is hardly one of the hubs of social networking and this causes me some guilt from time to time. As you know, MercatorNet has its page there too -- it’s kind of essential for our work. But I have younger relations who don’t bother with it. Responding to an invitation from a niece to attend her 50th birthday party I was informed that dancing was obligatory. “Oh no,” I said, “you will take photos and post them on Facebook and I’ll be the laughing stock of the internet.” “But I’m not on Facebook,” she replied. (And I think that means all the other sites too.) So that was the end of that excuse.
I went to the party and of course there were photos being taken -- most of them ending up in some great digital rubbish bin, no doubt -- but even the dancing was fun, with people of all ages making idiots of themselves trying to do whatever it is that passes for dancing these days. The nicest thing of all, though, was seeing my niece and her three 20-something children performing some jazz pieces together. They are a musical family and with a bit of rehearsing they managed to pull together a short repertoire.
I found it charming and reassuring that, at a time when young people in particular are reported to be living in their own little digital worlds, this family were keeping up their music and able to play together for a special celebration. Probably there is more of this going on than we think.
In our latest articles: Karl Stephan considers NASA’s Curiosity project as a welcome turn towards science for its own sake; George Friedman looks at the interplay of forces, political and otherwise, in the international financial situation; Richard Fitzgibbons offers a philosophical explanation to a question about gay “marriage”; and I express my doubts about women’s boxing being a victory for equality.
There are many interesting and important posts on the blogs. I think Conjugality was one of the first to spread the word that a US federal court has upheld Hawaii’s definition of marriage as involving one man and one woman. You certainly would not find it at the top of the Google News page this week. Sign up, if you haven’t already.