You can't tell stories about sunshine: How Facebook makes us better people
There are no stories in the media about the time a girl thought about getting absolutely crazy at a party, and then didn’t; instead she had a beer, chatted with some guys, danced a little, and went home.
There are no stories in the media about the time a boy thought about making a terrible decision, then chatted with some people online, got some good advice, and didn’t make that terrible decision.
As we used to say when I led wilderness trips, “you can’t tell stories about sunshine” (borrowed from Garrison Keilor I think).
Part of the problem with the media coverage of the Internet is that terrible incidents are magnified and lots of little good things that occur are lost.
But there was a recent NYT article about sunshine: “Spring Break Gets Tamer as World Watches Online.” Basically, Facebook turns the world into a Puritan New England village, where the houses were built tightly together along Main Street so everyone could see everyone’s business and keep them on all the straight and narrow (not that it mattered, since it was all preordained, but anyway…). As one 22 year old says, “At the beach yesterday, I would put my beer can down, out of the picture every time,” Ms. Sawyer said. “I do worry about Facebook. I just know I need a job eventually.”
There will always be stories about people who had their lives destroyed by dreadful behavior in public that was captured by Facebook. It’s nice to see a story that suggest that maybe, in some ways, a networked public improves our behavior as well.