According to Fox news, the results of “clinical trials” may push the Surgeon General to require Facebook to post a warning on its homepage, notifying the public that overuse of the site could cause harm. They also suggest that lawsuits might attempt to hold Facebook liable for the “damage done.”
Personally, I don’t even think this piece is newsworthy, unless the media is digging to cause an issue about something. OVERUSE of anything can cause harm, and that’s not breaking news. That’s a basic fact that’s been known for centuries. Overeating causes harm; overdrinking causes harm. Oversleeping causes harm. Excessive use of exercise of ANYTHING will cause harm, whether physical, psychological or both. So, using Facebook too much causes harm? Sure it does.
But why is the media suggesting that Facebook is responsible for harm that results in people overusing it? Why aren’t we holding the parents of the children responsible for allowing them to use it too young or too much? Why aren’t we holding users themselves responsible for the nature and duration of their use? Do we hold candy companies responsible for the stomach aches that ensue when children eat too much candy? Do we hold liquor brands responsible for the hangovers of people that drink too much? Do we hold mattress companies responsible for the muscle aches that happen when people stay in bed too long?
Historically no, but, unfortunately, it is becoming more and more common to blame the producer for having created a product rather than hold the user responsible for using it with moderation. The long run will be a less creative society – people cannot produce anything without fear of being held liable for damage caused by overuse, yet they have no authority over the people using it to make sure they use it responsibly…
This trend is based on a growing unwillingness to assume responsibility. Decades ago, the assumption was that the individual could be held accountable for their actions. Today, the assumption (legally speaking), is that they cannot. They have to find someone to blame for their own actions.
This “pass the blame game” is being played on all levels of societies. It’s not just a question of people passing the blame for their irresponsible behavior; it is also an unwillingness to take responsibility even for criminal behavior. This is true on the individual, but also corporate level. Think of the recent government scandals – the DHS, the IRS, Benghazi, the ObamaCare issues, etc. It’s been months since these scandals began and, to date, no one has yet assumed responsibility for them. Everyone “passes the buck off”.
When there is no responsibility, there is no accountability, and that’s convenience. If we never acknowledge that we are responsible for our own behavior, we never have to be accountable for it. We don’t have to make restitution or change our actions. We can keep living irresponsibly. It’s very convenient.
I know that this mentality is a growing trend, but as a Christian, I find this way of thinking reprehensive… Not because I think responsibility is easy, but because I think society as a whole has lost sight of the true value of accountability. It’s not really a question of where the ax finally falls and who in the end is stuck with undesirable consequences. It’s a profound question of human identity. Are you an individual? Are you free? Then you are responsible, by virtue of your freedom.
In shedding accountability, we are letting go of an essential element of what makes us truly human: our freedom. Furthermore, we are forgetting an important element of faith for many of us: salvation.
Salvation is closely linked with accountability. In light of salvation, a sense of accountability shouldn’t be riddled with fear and hesitation of what will happen if you do something wrong. It should be carried with a sense of pride: we know that being accountable gives us a certain worth and is leading us in a certain direction. ; acknowledging that we are responsible for our sin and failures is the first step toward opening ourselves to salvation. If we don’t take responsibility for what goes wrong, we can’t even begin recognize our need of salvation or play our role in our own salvation. I am an individual. I am free. I am responsible. And because of that, I am accountable for my actions, whether the consequences are positive or negative. In being accountable, I accept my imperfections, not to batter myself down, but to recognize that they are there so I can be saved from them.
Obviously, non-Christian individuals that do not see the need or reality of salvation cannot see accountability from this perspective. I do not think it is coincidental that society is losing its individual and communal sense of accountability following decades of de-Christianization. The two realities are closely linked.
As a Christian, I will continue being accountable. I will continue clinging to my freedom. I am proud of both. I will keep fighting for both to be respected and protected by society.
I will also continue using Facebook, and will continue doing so in moderation.