Monday, January 24, 2011

Facebook status: Live from jail.

Facebook and web portals like it, such as My Space and Twitter have taken the world by storm.  There are good things about such portals.  People meet new people, reconnect with friends and family and have a place where photos and updates about happenings can be easily found.  

But there is a downside.  Some folks use such portals to libel folks that they are mad at.  Some of those folks are either blocked from looking at the remarks made about them or just are not online.  The good things in life often get hijacked by the crazy and the bad folks at some level.  That is just life.  The web portals give louder voices to the nuts and the mean who once had their voices contained to gossiping at the supermarket or local diner or the like.  Further, such easy access to comment to the world by just typing in words and staring at a screen and not facing other human beings inspires people to say things that they never would say to one another.

Now, it seems, in South Carolina, the convicts get to have their voices heard on the web as well.  There are published reports that inmate Quincy Howard has been updating his Facebook page from prison.  Howard is serving a 30 year sentence for his conviction on manslaughter charges in Marion County, SC.  South Carolina Corrections officials have been quick to say they will make sure such does not continue to happen with Howard.  Fair enough.  But, frankly, how many more convicts get on the social networking web portals?  

The bigger issue is how do the social networking web portals redefine our culture?  A person can have his or her reputation ripped to shreds by some nutcase on Facebook or My Space or Twitter and not even know it.  A nutcase living in his mother's basement or a convict updating from prison can write pretty much what they want to write about the people who brought them to justice, or the even the mailman who crumpled their favorite magazine.  It gets that crazy.  

Trust us, the staff of VUI knows it firsthand.  Because we choose to work to write to inform and entertain folks on the internet, we opened ourselves to getting some really strange folks take us on.  Some of it you can read in our comments section.  But, some of the really nasty and untrue stuff has come from Facebook posters who "block" our editor, Brian McCarty, from their Facebook pages.  McCarty's is the only name front and center, so some of it is found out because the staff sees it.  

But, the concern is not about us. We chose to be public figures here at VUI.    What about the man who fired someone because they were drunk on the job and does not have a Facebook account?  When the woman he fired untruthfully posts on Facebook that he made unwanted sexual advances, and the people who know him see that before he does, is that a good thing?  Or what about some convict posting the names of the children of the man who brought him to justice for people to see?  

It brings to mind a recent conversation with an old engineer who worked on some of the stuff for the space program.  He remarked that America had not done anything great since we put a man on the moon.  The internet came to mind. He quoted another space program era person and said, "the internet is nothing but an efficient way to gossip and look at porn."  It makes one think.  Are the social networking portals really a good thing, or do they just inspire the worst among us to have a louder voice?  


  1. Damn. The title gave me hope that your sorry ass had finally be locked up for something. Thanks for nothing.

  2. Mr Howard is not the only person updating his Facebook status (or commenting on blogs) from behind bars... I should know