“Facebook is Self-Prostitution”

In case you haven’t heard – maybe you’ve just been too busy with your status updates – Facebook has come under considerable fire lately for its apparent loose attitude towards security and users’ privacy. Maybe you also haven’t heard about the four NYU students who managed in a relative flash to raise tens of thousands of dollars for their project to create an open-source alternative to Facebook called “Diaspora*.” (Yes, with that asterix at the end; further information about their project here.)

But here at EuroSavant our job is to inform you of things that you may not have heard about from the Eurosphere. So had you heard that your great-uncle in Germany also doesn’t want you using Facebook? Well OK, maybe he’s not really your great-uncle, he just looks like he should be, as you will realize if you surf to the recent interview with him in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, whose rather sensationalist title I have borrowed for the title of this post out of similarly sensationalist motivations. Actually, he’s probably someone worth listening to even more than any great-uncle in Germany: he’s Ernst Pöppel, renowned professor of psychology at the University of Munich.

And yes, he takes a rather dim view of Facebook and of modern on-line life in general. First let’s get that full Facebook quote:

Facebook, for example, is a sort of self-prostitution, an openness to intimacy without obligations. You don’t really open yourself up, you just want to display yourself. It is, in some sense, self-communication – a public diary that just seems to be communication.

He also asserts that, psychologically-speaking, multitasking is not really possible, and trying to do it is just grober Unfug – gross misconduct. Then he rails against people living more and more in a “simulated” on-line world, filled with distractions, so that for example he keeps noticing his students switching off only about ten minutes into a 45-minute lecture that he can only deliver in real life. Retaining some kind of psychological equilibrium in the face of all this requires cultivating a certain detachment from all the informational stimuli and a refusal to let their demands rule over our lives.

Let me head off right here all those readers who will find this post rather curious in light of my recent actions in setting up a EuroSavant Facebook fan page as well as all those thumbs-up “Recommend” buttons that you see after each post, including this one: I’m activating the special account “hypocrite@eurosavant.com” for you to use to express your concerns. Anyway, the old fart probably doesn’t even know what he’s talking about . . . whoops, gotta go! Just got an important e-mail!

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