Getting into bed with the enemy…REALLY???

along the caribbean

By Kenneth Justice

~ “So Kenneth, yea, I guess looking back at it all; the writing was on the wall that something wasn’t on the up and up but I needed a paycheck so I stayed…..and well, the FBI raided the office and all I can say is thank god that I didn’t do anything illegal!”

It had been awhile since I heard from one of my coffee house friends until a few months back when I got a call one night,

Where the hell have you been?” I asked, “What’s it been, at least a year since we’ve talked….what have you been up to?

Well Kenneth, ya know that job I’ve been working at…..well I guess there’s a reason we were getting so much business in our line of work when nobody else was; a number of things the owner was doing weren’t on the up-and-up and so as I was sitting at my desk the other day the FBI came barging into our office and confiscated all of our computers, laptops and documents and that’s it for my job!” he said

Of course, while I felt bad that my buddy had lost his job I couldn’t help but tell him how thankful I was that at least he wasn’t in on the illegal activity or else he would have lost a lot more than his job. This company is probably known by most everyone in my community since they were very popular via a slew of commercials they aired over the last couple years but since the FBI investigation is still ongoing; I know better than to blab names so my lips are sealed regarding any of the particular details…not that I know anything worth knowing.

I can’t help but wonder if my friend had any strong inklings about the illegal activity that was going on with his boss, but I guess sometimes in life we are willing to turn our eyes away in order to make a living; sometimes we have to make tough choices because we want to keep our electric and heating bill paid-up-to-date! Is it possible that sometimes in life we can justify getting into bed with the enemy?

For the past week I’ve been feeling a little bit hypocritical; I’ve written numerous articles over the past year questioning the value and worth of social networking sites like Facebook…..yet after a friend of mine publicized a couple articles for me last weekend via Twitter, Facebook, and a couple other sites…my web traffic has been through the roof. So here I am, Kenneth, who is not a big fan of Social Networking; yet thanks to Social Networks my articles have been read by hundreds of thousands of readers in the last few days.

Is it hypocritical? Ironic? Have I caved in? I’m not sure…..but at least I can say I’m not collaborating with a boss who is about to get indicted by the FBI! Although I’m sure a lot of people hate Mark Zuckerberg so much that they wouldn’t lose sleep if he was arrested……not that I ‘hate’ Zuckerberg, but I still wonder if Facebook (and other similar sites) are contributing to the breakdown of deeper conversation and connection.

Is Social Networking changing the way we communicate for the worse? That’s been the question I’ve been asking myself since 2009 when I first created my Facebook account. While Social Networks are a GREAT way to stay in touch with relatives overseas and friends who are far-away……I have this nagging fear in the back of my mind that Social Networks could possibly be contributing to the slow death of deeper and more meaningful conversations….

—-) When I see young adults appear to be unable to string sentences longer than 140 characters I get concerned

—-) When I see people of all ages spending twice as much time reading status updates in a day then they spend engaging in real-life conversation with people I get concerned

—-) When I see Social Networks used to perpetuate gossip and slander at a greater level than ever in the past I get concerned

Like all things it comes down to moderation and how we use a tool…..right? Isn’t Facebook just that; a tool. We can use it positively…..or we can use it negatively. An airplane is a great tool we can use to travel great distances…..but like we saw on 9/11 if we aren’t careful even an airplane can be used for evil.

Isn’t that the message we need to teach our children; that we shouldn’t allow ‘tools’ to run our lives? We shouldn’t become too obsessed with cell phones and social networks……right?

So maybe Social Networks aren’t the enemy; perhaps I didn’t sleep with the enemy this past week……but if I didn’t; then why do I feel so guilty?

Gosh I really need another coffee this morning,


If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a national and worldwide tour of coffee shops. My next stops include Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia….click on the homepage of my website for dates and locations; I’d love to have coffee with you!

Categories: Culture & Society

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83 replies

  1. I agree. Sometimes I feel so silly being on FB reading all kinds of stuff that really doesn’t interest me at all. But on the other hand, sometimes it’s so handy 😀

  2. The answer to your main question is, in my opinion, an emphatic yes. Social networks allow people to be more thoroughly masked, more vicious in their gossip, more untruthful IF THAT IS WHAT THEY WANT TO BE. However, any tool can be used well or ill. As in all of life, we are responsible for monitoring our own behavior and always reevaluating.

    • “if that is what they want to be”

      So true. And a lot of people want to be ‘more masked’ and ‘more vicious’ it is sad. I guess its that ‘dark’ side of social networks which always tends to be off-putting to me. Its hard for me to ignore the negative elements of sites such as Facebook and only focus on the positive; because to put it simply, there are a lot of NEGATIVE things about those Websites 😦

  3. Replacing real life and actual relationships. I know that’s your concern and I agree.

  4. Maneuvering Facebook can be tough, but going in with skeptical mind helps. It may be one of the only times this mindset works. Remembering that 75% of what is written has been edited so life sounds amazing. Life isn’t always lipstick and roses. Facebook gives you a place to stay connected with friends and family. If we wanna know what they have really been up to or how they honestly are…we need to go have coffee with them. Facebook will never allow that type of personal connection. No hand holding or kleenexs offered on Facebook…and we definitely don’t get to hear their laugh.

    You’ll be okay, Kenneth. Congrats on the traffic! You may have danced with the the devil, but it wasn’t the last dance. LOL

  5. The young use them as tools. They grow up with this stuff. A new “thing” comes along – they move with it. My experience is that those to whom it is “not what it was like back in the day” tend to ponder the evils (and then wonder what to say when it benefits them).

    My wrinkly opinion? Great for sharing pics, fun for silly updates – and the rest? Like tittle-tattle – your choice (become familiar with the “hide” button – no potential hassle of “un-friending” – simply “serenity” again at the click of a hide button)

  6. I left Facebook some time ago BECAUSE it’s such an easy and, more important, impersonal way to be connected to family and friends. I decided a while ago that superficial relationships that pretend to be real are something I just don’t want in my life. If one of our kids wants us to know something, we make individual connections. Same with friends. This narrows our interactions to those that find a small effort worthwhile. That’s okay with me.

    • ‘…superficial relationships that pretend to be real are something I just don’t want in my life”

      I think for some people Facebook works out well, especially when they live far away from each other and I don’t want to discount that positive aspect of Facebook….. But I totally relate to what your saying because I have know a lot of people who think they are ‘friends’ with someone via Facebook, yet they never hang out together in real life, never talk on the phone together, and if they needed help; these ‘Facebook’ friends would not be the people they turn to…..

      So the very context of what people view ‘friends’ as, is changing right before our eyes.

  7. Social networking is the biosphere; the new millennium of thought – the energy of the new dawn… its billions of people – peering at information – with all sorts of redundant systems and with “viral” alerts — it is the prediction of all seers from the past… it isn’t evil – it isn’t good… it is like an coffee shop that way… as I see it anyway.
    Getting that coffee is what this stirred up… gotta go.
    ~ Eric

    • ‘redundant systems’

      That’s a great term because you’re right, so much of it is redundant in a zillion different ways. When I used to have my personal Facebook account I used to be annoyed at seeing the same thing over-and-over, it was nauseating.

  8. Be the boss of your tools.

    Keep calm and just add coffee!😀

  9. Social networking can be a great tool, but unfortunately many people abuse it’s use. Either they use it for tearing others down or are on it so much that they neglect the people right in front of them. I have almost entirely stepped away from Facebook since becoming hooked on WordPress. Don’t know if that’s any better.

  10. The reality is that Facebook is no different to any other ‘club’. Be that club….. face-to-face….. or behind the presumed anonymity of a computer screen.

    You can be a member…….or not. It’s what you do when you’re inside that ‘club’ that rates you, and/or, breaks you. I think we all need to experience modern technology to have an understanding of what makes the community around us ‘tick’ these days. We all need to know how the ‘tools’ work. That doesn’t mean to say we have to use them every day, or use them indiscriminately.

    I guess the important thing is for parents to have some sort of controls in place so those that the vulnerable…..the young, the inexperienced, the naive, or those from a sheltered/conservative background……to ensure they are able to learn from their social networking and make realistic and safe decisions about their social behaviour, face-to-face, in real life.

    Those of us of a more mature age need to understand how it all works, so that we can make informed decisions of our own use (or non-use). Personally, I don’t like all these blossoming networking sites, but who am I to talk when I have a WordPress blog and use that platform every day to interact with like-minded people and share my hobby. Am I any different to the Facebook users? Hopefully, I use my Blog in a positive way.

    I get a thrill when I get a new Follower to my Blog. Why? Because it builds my confidence. I daresay, you, Kenneth, are no different. We all need to be needed. We’ve all had the word ‘success’ drummed into us at an early age. I try hard not to measure my success by other people’s standards, though. I try to behave in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling ‘guilty’. But you and i are only human, Kenneth. We act with good intentions and hopefully in a humble and loving way to all people around us. Most of us feel pride in our successes. it’s important not to mix pride with arrogance.

    Feeling ‘guilty’ is our inner mind working to place balance on our outer thoughts and actions. It is merely a tool of the mind (to try and draw in our pride to a sensible level). Don’t mistake guilt for the negative. Guilt can be viewed in a positive way. Think of it as your personal standards being tested and brought into balance.

    • You’re right….i ‘like’ when I’m ‘liked’ lol …..

      And as a fellow blogger I know says, ‘what’s the point of posting pictures or writing articles if nobody is looking at them or reading them”

      So you’re totally right Vicki, it might simply come down to ‘feeling guilty’ even though I really shouldn’t be.

      Great comments!

  11. Do what you like, as long as you like what you have done – seems to be as good a motto as any, faceook or twitter or whatever :-Db

  12. It’s a tool, for sure. I use it to create a network for my music career – to use IT to promote myself. I get amused when people say IT does things to them, like it spies on them, or has a mind of it’s own. Perhaps it does, to a certain extent, but it only knows what you tell it. If you don’t want a picture shared, then don’t put it up there.

    Well, it seems to me that your career, Kenneth, is to reach as many people as possible, as you are a writer, and don’t writers want to be read?

  13. I think it is easy to criticize social media for the obvious reasons already mentioned. I personally don’t have a Facebook page because it’s not meaningful to me. But, I am deeply rooted in the relationships around me. My wife loves Facebook and has reconnected with many of the people she has known around the world and she, too, is deeply connected to the relationships around her. That’s the point isn’t it? It’s the people around us that will be at our door step when we need help. The people on Facebook can watch our lives, but it’s our community that will help us live it.

  14. You make some very valid points and I often question the whole social media thing as well. I also have relatives that live far away and being able to watch my nieces and nephews grow up through the pictures every day means the world to me. I also see my kids completely dismissive and in a trance when I try and have a conversation with them. It does destroy one on one personal interaction without a doubt. I guess I will always find it a bittersweet relationship but one where the pros out way the cons 😉

  15. It’s how you use it i guess. I dont put anything too personal on Facebook as i dont want to let people in on my real life. If i choose to tell someone something truly personal, it would be an actual friend with whom i converse face to face every now and then. I see how couples fight on Facebook or even declare their love.. and im like, did you just not see your husband this morning where you could have told him how much you love and appreciate him?

    as for texting. I get really annoyed when people cannot type full sentences. How bloody lazy do you need to be? the text will still cost you 30c whether you text 140 characters or 50 characters. social networking can make you lazy, but it also depends on who you are.

    Another thing i dislike about Facebook or people that use it too much, is if they expect you to know tit bits about their lives because they apparently posted it on Facebook. I do not spend my days browsing Fb, making sure i know everything about you.

    • “I do not spend my days browsing FB, making sure I know everything about you”

      I also get creeped out when I see older guys looking at young women on Facebook for HOURS at coffee shops…… not that I’m against different aged people dating…. but these guys are clearly NOT dating these girls…….

  16. Like you said, and I’ve said before, it’s all in how you use it and what you choose to take away from it. Yes some social networking sites can have negative impacts on people and society but they are just another step in our evolution as a society. We crave new ways to communicate with eachother, we crave new information (be it of value or not) and we crave interaction. When Facebook first came out it wasn’t used for the impersonal and evil reasons it is now used for, it was an innocent way to aid in connecting to others. WordPress is another social networking site, perhaps the reason it seems less evil right now is because, if you look at the numbers, very few people actually use it in comparison to other sites like FB or Twitter. If the masses flocked to WordPress like they have to other sites it could easily turn into just another Tumblr. The more people you add the bigger the melting pot, the bigger the melting pot the more opportunity for people to get burned.

    • Do better,

      I never thought of it till you just presented the though; if everyone stopped using Facebook and all started using blogging sites… then would us ‘Facebook’ haters have a different attitude toward the blogging world????? I’ve totally got to think about that for awhile..hmmmmmmm

  17. You feel guilty because you’re a slanderer of social networking but then you turned around and used it lol; kinda makes you a bit two-faced 😉 Just kidding. It’s easy to end up in that situation given the circumstances. I agree with you in terms of how social networking is used. You know this. I think I first started to give it some leeway after speaking with my editor and his thoughts that some of the “hell” we’re going through right now in terms of etiquette regarding any technology not only social networks, is because the technology is growing faster than we can keep up with in terms of laws, social expectations, etc. He’s convinced that eventually the two will meet and things will even out. I sure hope so. As far as sleeping with the enemy, well I don’t know of a single person who hasn’t had that experience once. Plus wasn’t it in some movie, maybe “The Godfather” that said keep your friends close, but your enemies closer? Or something like that. You could think of it that way. Plus, social networking is an inanimate object, it doesn’t have feelings. Seems to me that “using” social networking is exactly its purpose anyway. So really, you’re not breaking any rules. You’re not abandoning your values either just by taking advantage of a system that’s designed to be taken advantage of. I see nothing wrong with this. It would be different if you were taking advantage of a person or something that has a particular value. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., etc. want to be used that’s why they exist. So be it if you ask me. It would be different if you were to say those things on here Kenneth but then turn around and be hooked on those sites and using them all day like – that would be true hypocrisy and I don’t see that happening. 🙂

  18. If a friend shared your article on Facebook…. then didn’t your friend sleep with the enemy? Either way, I think social networks are great. I have (checks phone apps) 9 social networking apps on my phone if you count wordpress and bloglivin. I have my job because of social networking. When it comes to personal use though, it’s just about convenience. If I’m making plans with a group of friends, we use Facebook to discuss it. If I’m looking for a new recipe, I hit up Pinterest. If I’m looking for a laugh, I’ll check out Imgur. I guess I’m just all over the place. Maybe I am the enemy!

    On the topic of doing something wrong in order to put food on the table, I think we can see that people are very willing to do that. That sort of behavior is how gangs in Chicago first started to develop. Back when society was segregated, the white ‘gangs. tried to keep African Americans in one place. They didn’t want them to spread or try and get a job outside of their small area. Eventually, the African American community had their own ‘gangs’ just to protect themselves (since members of the white ‘gangs’ often grew up to be police officers, firemen and city politicians). It’s no surprised that poverty was high, so they turned to illegal activity to make ends meet. That in no way justifies the horrible things gangs do in Chicago today. The point is that we survive. Even if we have to do horrible things, we do what we have to so that we and are children will make it to tomorrow. Is that bad if that’s your motivation? I don’t know.

    Disclaimer: facts about Chicago are gleaned from memory and my not be 100% accurate. Sorry.

    • TK, great example of Chicago and its dead on. I periodically get into arguments/heated discussions with a friend of mine who disputes pretty much everything you wrote in that second paragraph and it takes every in me to stay calm and not resort to sticking my tongue at him and calling him names…. frustrating!

    • People don’t understand how much history plays into it all. You have grandparents who never trusted city officials. It’s what they saw and what they were taught. What do you think they taught their children. And then what did those children teach their children? Sometimes I think people have difficulty understanding how hard it can be to break that cycle.

    • Yes, yes, and yes……

      AND some people are simply racist and don’t want to admit that white people have simply treated African Americans pretty shitty at times to say the least

  19. Hmm, have you conformed? I don’t know that I would really classify your recent use of social media, and the influx of new readers as conforming. How do you define conforming? Adhering to something because it is culturally acceptable and expected? Is is conforming to go to college, to earn a degree and have higher paying jobs available to you, or is that just smart planning for your future? I do believe that your posts, your articles offer really great social commentary, and a true opinion (not a media-shaped, copycat voice), so if by using social media to “get the word out”, I don’t see that as conforming. You’re using the tools available to you. Although I refuse to use Facebook (I had it years ago), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using it to reach more people. Keep up the good work 😉

    • Thank you….i so don’t want to be conformist 😉 although in other things I think I am but I will keep those things to myself lol

      And I don’t have a personal Facebook account…I used to as well but it just drove me nuts; I guess its simply not my style but I wouldn’t want to say anything against the people who enjoy Facebook. Different strokes for different folks as they say 🙂

  20. I think I saw you mention self control (or moderation) in utilizing tools; how many adults you know who have a problem with impulse control and you expect kids to hv this control? Funny.. I personally hate the ads and hide and seek mentality on FB. It takes up too much time. I cherish my time. W

    • Great point…. and your right; the fact that so many people think that young adults and children ‘can handle’ things such as Facebook and demonstrate moderation while using them seems pretty unrealistic….. perhaps that is why I fear that social networks (and things like it) are simply getting too big too fast and affecting too many people too quickly…..

    • it’s much like an incurable disease at this stage. what would you do if you tried to post online for 1 week and the internet was down as an adult? you would be crawling up the wall by the you found a connection:))

  21. Just wondering if you’ve read anything by Sherry Turkle. I’ve read it and heard her lecture and although she may sound initially anti-technology I think she’s more against allowing technology to strengthen our bad habits with other humans. I’d recommend it-

  22. I agree with the concerns that are posted here, especially the rumor-mongering and bullying that comes through social networking. I teach at a high school, so I get to see a lot of that first hand. But I’ve also seen kids with severe anxiety disorders, social phobias, etc. blossom through the use of social networking and on-line discussion boards. I’ve been amazed at how these kids open up, and it’s very satisfying to see these kids (and there really are more than you think) able to express themselves.

    It does beg the question though, if this is just keeping the students from gaining comfort and familiarity in social settings.

  23. The question you posit is interesting. Social media are just – as everyone and their dog have said – a tool. They can be used well or badly. I think you feel slightly guilty because you thought you were a wee bit superior to such media and let your thoughts be known, and now you find you aren’t. Kenneth, it isn’t the end of the world if you trend on facebook, twitter or similar. Better that people read your posts than some of the garbage that is out there!

    • “Better that people read your posts than some of the garbage that is out there!”

      Thank you! Its funny that you used the term ‘garbage’ cause someone emailed me a week or so ago and said my articles WERE garbage ha ha…. oh well, everyone has different taste 🙂

  24. Using social networks to spread your message is a GOOD use of these tools. Of course, everything in moderation. But, just think, there are people who would have never found you without them!

  25. I don’t know if you “do” blog awards, but I nominated you for one in tonight’s post, as one of my top 5 must-reads. I really enjoy your work!

  26. I thought you said that you no longer had your Facebook set up … ?

    and I think there is a good and bad to fb – but it surely connects and allows interaction – but something that has me curious is how people keep up with so many followers? It almost feels like we are becoming junkies with thousands of followers -and my husband and I were just talking about this and it depends on the kind of blog you keep (personal vs. more business or advocate oriented) but wow – it is like some teens are not happy unless they have 7 or 8 HUNDRED followers.

    Key and peele did a skit that involved Jesus – it was done in very good taste – and we’ll I will have to share later about why we were watching that show – but in the skit – someone was defending Jesus and they said, “Stop – he has 12 followers” – and it was a play on societal norms to have thousands of followers in social media –

  27. from the title of this post I thought it was going to be totally different (was thinking of that Julia Roberts movie)

    • I HATE THAT MOVIE! Lol when I worked at this one particular rehab clinic I had to teach a domestic violence class a few times a week and we would play that film for the men like 25 times a year (different groups) after seeing it for the 10th or 11th time I began to loathe that movie (I would hate any movie that I was forced to watch that many times unless it stars Steve Martin or Natalie Portman… or is directed by Wes Anderson… those are my exceptions!)

    • Oh… and I wanted to use that as my title but I felt guilty ripping the movie off so I tweaked it just a bit 😉

  28. Your insight into the destruction of communication skills in teenagers is compelling. As one who has the opportunity to observe this group daily, it never fails to shock me how degenerative the introduction of texting, snapchat, facebook (how is playing farmville mentally uplifting or socially uplifting?) and the like has been to the social and communicative skills on the vast numbers of young people I interact with.

    • Thelost,

      I got into a discussion with someone yesterday that was trying to convince me how much better education is here in the united states compared to other countries; to which I asked him, “When is the last time you had a lengthy conversation with a teenage boy?” and he wouldn’t respond because he never interacts with young adults……. to which I then pointed out, that communication skills are decreasing here in the U.S. 😦 sad but true

  29. I don’t see social media as being any different from prior inventions that affected the way people interacted with each other. For example when the telephone was first introduced people worried that it “permitted inappropriate or dangerous discussions, such as illicit wooing.”

    • Malcolm,

      What a great point. Who was it that said shortly after the invention of the telegraph that “now we have the ability here in the United States to hear that Princess Ann in England has a cold” or something like that! Lol! While inventions like the phone and internet are great; there are so many trivial things they are used for.

  30. Great post Kenneth! Next to WP I use FB as a way keeping in touch with my family and friends I don’t see on regular bases. Thanks to FB I now have contact with lots of friends and family that moved to all parts of the world. Yesterday for example my brother found a picture from my Grandma when she was 10 years old through a friend on FB! It was a big blessing for us and we had fun guessing where the photo was taken….Those are moments when I love FB!:) But, I can also get very irritated when people keep posting useless things on there. I can tell you that the “block” and “delete” buttons and I became very good friends. Everybody has the freedom to choose to post what they want on their wall, but as much as they have that freedom, I have mine to choose what kind of topics I want to read and what kind of people I accept on there. That’s why for the ” accept” button, I have very strict rules. So, for me it’s the quality that counts and not the quantity. Thanks for sharing and have beautiful Saturday!

    • Nadyess, yea I suspect a lot of people have a love/hate relationships with Facebook for exactly the examples you’ve given; there are times when it is great and times when it is annoying

  31. My children opened a Facebook account for me for Christmas. I don’t know if it will ruin my life or not. I do think you are right that it is a tool that we can use either badly or not. For me, I am so obsessive about writing that my status updates are more like essays that the sentence or two most people use. After one particularly long update, my daughter commented “My dad – he puts the work in social network” so I am probably more of a burden to my FB friends. There have actually been some conversations generated by some of the things I have put up, though productive or not is questionable. Kathryn and the kids tell me that eventually, when the novelty wears off, I will spend less time and it will be more worthwhile. We shall see. Another excellent post from you. Enjoy Atlanta. Haven’t been there in nearly 50 years but it was my idea of what a big city was at one point.

  32. ‘but I still wonder if Facebook (and other similar sites) are contributing to the breakdown of deeper conversation and connection.’

    Kenneth, I am positive you no longer wonder this point? I have experienced firsthand how Facebook creates a wall of sorts – even text messaging (which I use constantly) deprives of us the meaning behind what we really mean to say thus we have emoticons to help but they really very aren’t very helpful. We can use them positively and responsibly and looks like you it’s positively for you with your success at the moment.

    Social Media though has had a detrimental effect on our young ones-this I firmly believe.

    • Well, I think its like many things; its a matter of whether u use it positively, or whether you use it for negative things…..i’m not sure why but I have found that Twitter annoys me a lot less than Facebook…..

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