Procrastinating one Sunday, I set aside a pile of print-outs from on-line media stories on the perils and inanities of Facebook and settled in for a serious read of the South China Morning Post (in hard copy, of course, with hot coffee on the side). You may need to know this great newspaper to appreciate my shock at finding therein a sententious editorial about Facebook (‘Facebook no substitute for real world contact’). While it is a Murdoch property, criticised at times for a willingness to accommodate the pressures of Beijing, the SCMP is still a hard news-focussed paper, full of serious analysis of events around the world: it does not feature frothy columnists, and celebrity wardrobe malfunctions rarely make the front page. Yet here, with no context beyond a slight story about phishing attacks on Facebook, was one of those loopy, furious moral blares that in recent years I have come to associate with Australian newspapers: ‘there is always superficiality to networking on the Web’, the writer opined. If Facebook ‘perhaps’ helps us keep in touch with friends in faraway places, ‘making new friends and maintaining old friendships requires effort, emotional commitment and contact in the real world. Facebook is no substitute for face time’.
|Australian humanities review
|Published - 2009